From bubble tea runs to getting a haircut: What you can or cannot do under tighter COVID-19 circuit breaker rules

From bubble tea runs to getting a haircut: What you can or cannot do under tighter COVID-19 circuit breaker rules

CHICHA San Chen bubble tea
People line up at the CHICHA San Chen bubble tea outlet in Somerset, Apr 4, 2020. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: More shops and food and beverage outlets in Singapore will have to suspend operations, after the authorities trimmed a list of essential services as part of stricter measures to stem the spread of COVID-19.

The tighter rules come as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday (Apr 21) announced the extension of the current "circuit breaker" period for another four weeks until Jun 1, to "decisively" bring down the number of coronavirus cases.

READ: COVID-19 circuit breaker extended until Jun 1 as Singapore aims to bring down community cases ‘decisively’: PM Lee

From getting a haircut to buying bubble tea – here’s a quick overview of what you can and cannot do under the new rules.

WHERE CAN I GET MY SNACKS?

Specialised food and beverage outlets will have to shut for now, including outlets that “predominantly” sell drinks such as bubble tea, fruit juice, smoothies, coffee, soya bean and alcoholic drinks.

Popcorn stores, bak kwa shops, ice cream shops, outlets that mainly sell cakes, cupcakes, cheese and other desserts will have to close too. 

This is because the rules state that standalone outlets selling only beverages, packed snacks, confectionery and desserts must close their outlets. 

This does not apply to stalls in hawker centres, coffee shops and food courts.

READ: Go out alone for essential needs, don't make it a ‘family outing’, say Singapore leaders

File photo bubble tea
File photo of bubble tea. (Photo: Unsplash / Rosalind Chang)

Specialised food and beverage outlets can sell their products online – only if they come from a licensed central kitchen, manufacturing facility or warehouse of the F&B establishment.

However, manufacturing facilities that produce chocolate, chips, ice cream, sweets and cakes will have to shut.

These measures on food and retail outlets will take effect from Wednesday and continue until at least May 4. 

F&B outlets that sell meals, cooked snacks and bread, as well as hawker centres, food courts and coffee shops will be allowed to continue delivery and takeaway services.

WHERE WILL I GET MY BREAD?

There's no need to start panicking that your favourite local bakery – you know, the kind that makes freshly baked fluffy bread – will shut down.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry said in response to queries from CNA that bakeries that sell mainly bread are exempted from the suspension.

Such bakeries may remain open to only manufacture and sell bread, said the ministry.

If they sell other items in their shops, for example cakes, they will be allowed to sell off the remaining inventory for those items but will not be able to bake new ones for sale.

CAN I STILL GO TO SUPERMARKETS AND MALLS?

Yes, you can. However, malls and supermarkets have now been told to conduct temperature screening at their entrances to detect customers with a fever. 

Those with high traffic – such as NEX, AMK Hub, Great World City and Tampines Mall – should also conduct contact tracing. You'll be required to provide your personal particulars for this purpose.

safe distancing NTUC PLQ
Safe distancing measures at NTUC FairPrice PLQ Mall, Mar 22, 2020. (Photo: Chew Hui Min)

You should wear a mask when leaving the house, as previously announced. In addition, only one person per household should be away from home at any one time, the Prime Minister said when he addressed the nation on Tuesday.

READ: Visits to 4 popular markets to be restricted based on patrons' IC numbers: NEA

Supermarkets are also encouraged to remind customers to limit entry to one person per family, where possible.

WHAT IF I NEED A HAIRCUT? OR ITEMS FOR MY PET?

You might have to resign yourself to growing your hair out this circuit breaker period (or DIY it), as hairdressers and barbers will have to close their outlets.

Stores selling pet food and supplies will have to close their retail outlets too, but online retail of pet supplies will still be allowed.

puppy dog eyes
File photo of a dog. (Photo: Unsplash/Bharathi Kannan)

I NEED NEW GLASSES - CAN I GO TO THE OPTICIAN?

Yes, but book in advance. Optician shops which sell contact lenses, prescription glasses and provide optometry services will only operate by appointment only, meaning that they will not be allowed to take walk-in customers. 

As for other personal care activities, pharmacies and their related personal care item stores will still be allowed to open. 

Traditional Chinese medicine stores with in-house practitioners registered with the Health Ministry can remain open for consultation and to dispense medicine, but walk-in retail is not allowed.

READ: COVID-19: What the law says about having to wear a mask when outside your home

CAN I STILL GO OUT TO EXERCISE?

Yes, but the authorities advise you to do this by yourself, and near home.

“If you need to go out – buy food, buy groceries – go out alone. Do not turn this into an occasion for a family outing,” said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong at a press conference on Tuesday.

“If you need to go out and exercise, exercise alone and in your own neighbourhood. Do not travel out to exercise.”

covid-19 - singapore mask rules during exercise

If you’re heading to a park or nature reserve, remember to take what you need with you – F&B outlets and convenience stores will be closed in gardens, parks and nature reserves (although hawker centres in parks can remain open). In addition, all car parks at these locations will be closed.

Sport Singapore's advice is for people to exercise at home. If they want to head out to exercise, they should head home immediately after they are done.

Circuit breaker essential services closed graphic

In urging people to stay home, and to head out only for essential trips - alone as far as possible - the Health Ministry said: "We want to minimise the number of people out and about, to reduce the chances of community transmission.

"We understand that some members of the public will need to be accompanied by a caregiver, for example, frail seniors, the disabled, and young children. We encourage everyone to adhere to the spirit of the guidelines to minimise movement, and complete their tasks and return to their homes quickly."

The Government has a full list of what's considered essential services online.

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Source: CNA/nc(gs)

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