SINGAPORE: Home-based businesses, including those in the food and beverage line, must meet certain criteria in order to continue operating during the “circuit breaker” period or face a S$1,000 fine.
These requirements include operating only online without requiring business owners or staff to leave their homes, and not requiring customers or third-party delivery services at the premises to collect or deliver goods.
This was stated in a joint reply by four government agencies – the Trade and Industry Ministry, Environment and Water Resources Ministry, Housing Board and Urban Redevelopment Authority – in response to media queries regarding the operation of such businesses during the circuit breaker period, which is aimed at stemming the spread of COVID-19.
READ: From bubble tea runs to getting a haircut: What you can or cannot do under tighter COVID-19 circuit breaker rules
“During the circuit breaker period, home-based businesses in public and private housing can operate only if all the criteria in the Ministry of Health’s guidelines and the latest provision under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 are met,” they said.
The agencies noted the multi-ministry taskforce had pointed to the need to further reduce transmission of the coronavirus by minimising human interaction, when the extension of the circuit breaker period was announced on Apr 21.
“If the nature of the home-based business does not meet the stipulated regulations, it will need to cease operations. This includes home-based food and beverage businesses,” they said, adding that action will be taken against businesses that flout the rules.
Businesses that continue operating during this period without meeting the necessary criteria face a fine of S$1,000 for a first offence, with repeat offenders facing higher fines or prosecution in court.
Malay broadsheet Berita Harian on Saturday reported that some home-based food businesses have raised concerns about the tightened circuit breaker measures, especially those that have already accepted orders for the coming Hari Raya celebrations.
In a statement, the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the circuit breaker has affected the livelihood of such home-based businesses.
“The Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry is working closely with all the relevant authorities to look into this matter urgently. We assure you that the chamber is exploring all avenues to address this issue and find an amicable solution without compromising social distancing procedures,” said the chamber's president Farid Khan.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development Faishal Ibrahim said he was aware of the concerns of affected home-based food businesses.
“I understand that some have taken orders for Ramadan and Hari Raya and are impacted by these measures. This is indeed a very difficult time for everyone, especially during this festive season,” he said.
Home-based business owners whose incomes are affected by the circuit breaker can turn to a number of support initiatives, such as the Temporary Relief Fund, the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme and Workfare Special Payment.
A number of Malay and Muslim organisations are also offering assistance schemes under the SGTeguhBersatu initiative, Associate Professor Faishal added.