SINGAPORE: Of the 18 nightspots that received a government grant to pivot to food and beverage (F&B) operations, two were karaoke businesses.
But none of the establishments that are currently in the KTV COVID-19 cluster received such grants, said the authorities on Wednesday (Jul 21).
As of Wednesday, 215 cases are linked to the KTV cluster, making it the second-largest active cluster, after Jurong Fishery Port.
There are stringent criteria in place when assessing grant applications, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and Enterprise Singapore (ESG) said in a joint press release.
MTI and ESG said they wished to “clarify comments and misperceptions” about recent breaches of safe management measures by illegal KTV clubs masquerading as F&B outlets which resulted in the spread of COVID-19 cases.
Due to the pandemic, all nightlife establishments were not permitted to operate from Mar 27, 2020.
READ: All nightlife businesses that pivoted to F&B to be suspended for 2 weeks as KTV COVID-19 cluster grows
MTI and ESG said many businesses and the Singapore Nightlife Business Association appealed to the Government to allow them to pivot to other permissible activities.
These activities included F&B outlets, office spaces, as well as gym and fitness centres.
“Considering the challenges faced by the industry, the Government allowed selected establishments to pivot to other permissible activities from October 2020,” they said.
Nightlife establishments that wished to pivot to other permissible activities had to first obtain the necessary approvals from the relevant regulatory agencies.
MTI and ESG said the firm had to submit a business plan, including details on the operational requirements.
Each application was carefully assessed on its own merit, taking into consideration factors such as the applicant’s operational plan.
Approved applicants were eligible for a pivot grant of up to S$50,000 from ESG, to defray qualifying costs incurred during the pivoting process, such as equipment and third-party consultancy costs.
Grants are given on a reimbursement basis and disbursed only upon satisfactory checks of the required documentation and onsite inspection, they said.
As of Jul 21 this year, more than 400 former nightlife establishments have pivoted to other approved uses.
“Of these, only 18 have received ESG’s pivot support package to pivot to F&B operations. Of these 18 establishments, 10 were bars and pubs, six were nightclubs and discos and two were karaoke establishments. None of the establishments belonging to the KTV COVID-19 cluster received a pivot grant,” said MTI and ESG.
They added that the various agencies check on all F&B establishments to ensure compliance with all safe management protocols.
Checks on pivoted ex-nightlife operators are jointly conducted with the police.
“Agencies will not hesitate to take firm enforcement action against errant operators. If found in breach of safe management measures, grant terms or declarations as submitted in the grant applications, ESG reserves the right to recover the grants even after disbursement,” they said.