Nightlife industry a 'higher risk' setting, activities unlikely to resume even at start of Phase 3: Lawrence Wong

Nightlife industry a 'higher risk' setting, activities unlikely to resume even at start of Phase 3: Lawrence Wong

Clarke Quay circuit breaker
Lights switched off at closed businesses along Clarke Quay during the circuit breaker on May 27, 2020. (Photo: TODAY/Nuria Ling) 

SINGAPORE: The nightlife industry is not expected to resume its activities even after Singapore enters Phase 3 of its reopening, as it is a sector with a higher risk setting. 

This was said by Education Minister Lawrence Wong, the co-chair of the multi-ministry task force on COVID-19, on Tuesday (Oct 20), adding the industry has to be prepared for “quite a long period of restrictions”.  

He noted that the nightlife industry comprises bars, clubs, karaoke lounges and nightclubs.

READ: COVID-19: Social gatherings of up to 8 people may be allowed in Phase 3, says Gan Kim Yong

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“We know these are higher risk settings. The nature of the activities themselves, of such activities, means that you have people socialising in close contact, often in a small enclosed space and risk is very much higher," said Mr Wong at a multi-ministry task force press conference.

“So even at the start of Phase 3, when we enter Phase 3, we do not expect to resume these activities any time soon.”

However, the Government will put in place assistance measures during this period to help business operators and owners to exit, transit and pivot to new areas, he said, adding that more details of the measures would be announced separately.

Mr Wong added that the authorities were prepared to consider pilots in some settings, with “much more stringent” safe management measures.

The additional measures include, but are not limited to, testing customers with a rapid test kit before they enter the premises, as well as current safe management measures such as no loud music, no intermingling between groups of people and physical distancing.

And to ensure that safe management measures are "fully complied with", the Government may use closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras to monitor the premises.

He added that businesses would have to consider if it is "viable" to proceed with all the additional measures, as "a dance club may not sound like a dance club anymore" with the regulations.

The Government allowed F&B outlets to resume dine-in services in June, after Singapore entered Phase 2 of its reopening. While nightlife locations still remain closed, F&B outlets can serve liquor and allow consumption of liquor on its premises until 10.30pm.

In response to a question on why cruises may resume activities, but not karaoke lounges, Mr Wong said that the nature of the activity is "quite different". 

Singing and dancing in a room with loud music are "known to be of higher risk" and are "more likely to be super spreader events", he said.

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Source: CNA/cc

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