F&B, retail outlets brace for tightened Covid-19 measures amid KTV cluster spread

Published Fri, Jul 16, 2021 · 12:04 PM

WITH the emergence of the growing KTV cluster, food and beverage (F&B) and retail businesses are bracing for another round of tightened Covid-19 measures.

As at Thursday, the KTV lounge cluster grew to 88, making it one of Singapore's largest active clusters, with more cases expected to surface.

Against this backdrop, the multi-ministry task force (MTF) on Covid-19 is deliberating the type of additional measures to take, and will give an update soon, said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the MTF, in a Facebook post on Thursday.

F&B and retail businesses, which have been at the receiving end of constantly changing social-distancing measures, told The Business Times that they are expecting the recent relaxation of Covid-19 measures to be affected.

"It looks like the government will impose more restrictions, but we do not know what they are. The cluster is probably too big to not do anything about it. We are now hoping the action will be restricted to the KTV segment," said restaurant and cocktail bar Jekyll & Hyde's owner Chua Ee Chien.

"We're hopeful that the government will take the livelihoods of the majority of other F&B and nightlife operators into consideration. The vast majority have been following the rules, and hope not to be penalised because of a few bad apples. And with the higher vaccination rates, we hope this endemic regime will be structured to reflect that," said Mr Chua who is also on the Singapore Nightlife Business Association's committee.

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While Good Luck Beerhouse's owner Kevin Ngan is expecting some degree of restrictions to be imposed, he is hoping that such measures will be "less blunt" and specifically target those that have pivoted from KTV lounges to F&B outlets.

There needs to be better classification and differentiated enforcement regime based on different types of F&B operations, said Mr Ngan.

Currently, F&B establishments such as hawker centres, restaurants and KTVs that have pivoted their business operate distinctly but are all subject to the same restrictions, he added.

Lionel Seng, co-founder of local blogshop Shop Sassy Dream, which has outlets at Plaza Singapura and Bugis Junction, said that the retail business fluctuates based on the number of daily cases.

"Despite the increasing vaccination rate, I think this inflicts a huge blow on retail confidence from the general public for fear of unwanted and unnecessary exposure," he said.

Mr Seng expects the government will reduce the cap for social gatherings to two from the current five.

"It is unfortunate that this has happened but I think the government will take that step. Retail and forefront businesses will bear the brunt of impact again," he added.

Meanwhile, Surface Noise, a record store at Textile Centre where one of the affected KTV lounges is located, informed customers via social media that it has taken a "disappointing yet necessary decision" to close the store from July 15 to July 18.

"We were getting ready to celebrate Record Store Day this weekend and going by the turnout last month where we had a constant queue outside the shop, we expected a similar crowd size this Saturday and Sunday. However, as one of the affected KTV lounges is located in the same building as us, we've decided for the safety of our customers to take the pre-emptive measure of not opening the store and holding an online flash sale instead," said a spokesperson for Surface Noise.

Rose Tong, executive director of the Singapore Retailers Association, said in a statement that with the emergence of the new KTV cluster just about two weeks away from a possible lifting of restrictions, the Covid-19 task force may rethink whether restrictions need to be tightened to mitigate further community spread.

Tightened measures will cause a further setback to the reopening of the economy and hurt the retail industry, she said.

With the roadmap ahead to treat Covid-19 as "the common flu", not reimposing tighter measures might be a better outcome, treating the emergence of the KTV cluster as a lesson learnt, Ms Tong added.


  • F&B demand in Singapore's CBD picks up after dine-in group size upped to five
  • F&B firms relieved over decision to allow dine in for two persons
  • Listed F&B players find new recipes beyond dine-in business
  • Bars get innovative to mitigate sales loss from earlier closing times, capacity cuts
  • Two KTV lounges at Selegie closed due to likely ongoing Covid-19 transmission
  • The ‘butterfly effect’ and Covid-19: Implications for sustainable investing
  • 20 foreign women arrested for suspected involvement in vice activities at three KTV lounges



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