COVID-19: Pilot to reopen nightclubs, karaoke outlets delayed amid rise in community cases

COVID-19: Pilot to reopen nightclubs, karaoke outlets delayed amid rise in community cases

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: A pilot programme for some nightclubs and karaoke outlets to reopen with COVID-19 safety measures in place has been deferred until further notice, amid an increase in the number of community cases.

This was announced on Tuesday (Jan 19) by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).

"To prevent the risk of further community transmission and formation of clusters in high-risk settings such as nightclubs and karaoke outlets, which entail people coming into close contact for prolonged periods of time and in enclosed spaces, the pilots have been deferred until further notice," the ministries said in a joint media release.

"It is uncertain when the pilot may be able to commence, given the dynamic public health situation. Agencies will review the commencement of the pilots at a suitable juncture."

READ: Some nightlife businesses allowed to reopen with COVID-19 safety measures under pilot programme

The pilot for nightclubs and karaoke outlets was to have started this month. 

Authorities had chosen two nightclubs and 10 karaoke outlets to participate in the pilot, out of a total of eight nominations for nightclubs and 15 for karaoke outlets. 

"We are working with the operators who were shortlisted for the pilot on the next steps for their businesses, and assisting them individually," said MHA and MTI.

READ: 3 bars and pubs allowed to reopen under COVID-19 pilot programme for nightlife industry

READ: ‘Whatever it takes’: Nightlife venues keen on reopening grapple with strict COVID-19 rules

A separate pilot for bars and pubs, which started on Dec 8, will continue for now, said the ministries. 

This involves three outlets which were allowed to reopen: Bar Kiharu at Orchard Plaza, Bell Bar at Cuppage Plaza and Skinny’s Lounge at Boat Quay.

"Agencies will also continue to monitor the situation closely, and will work with the operators to tighten the SMMs (safe management measures) where necessary to safeguard public health," said the ministries.

In November last year, MHA and MTI said a “limited number” of nightlife establishments would be allowed to reopen with safe management measures in place under a pilot programme.

“The pilots aim to establish the viability and robustness of the stringent safe management measures and the ability of the nightlife industry to comply with them, before the Government considers allowing any further steps in the resumption of nightlife businesses,” the ministries had said. 

READ: With no prospect of reopening, KTV lounge owners say industry has been 'forsaken'

READ: Lights out, music stops: Still-shuttered pubs, karaoke joints call for help amid COVID-19 pandemic

Entertainment venues including nightclubs, discos and karaoke outlets had been ordered to close in March 2020 in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19 within the community.

Nearly 10 months on, many of these venues remain shuttered, though some have been able to reopen as food and beverage outlets.

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Source: CNA/nh(gs)

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