SINGAPORE – Education Minister Lawrence Wong said that nightlife venues like nightclubs, karaoke lounges and bars will likely remain closed even though Singapore enters into Phase Three of the island’s reopening due to their “higher risk” status of spreading Covid-19.
During a virtual press briefing held on Tuesday (October 20), Minister Wong, who is a co-chair of the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19, said “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.”
Meanwhile, the government is considering doing pilot trials but with added safety measures at these types of venues. Such measures could possibly include pre-entry testing or even surveillance cameras to assist in making sure all safety protocols and measures are followed. These trials will also help authorities decide on ways to allow this industry to resume business safely when the time comes.
Minister Wong also shared, “Based on the pilots, we will consider whether it is safe to proceed, and it’s also for the industry itself to consider whether it’s viable to proceed. Because with all these measures in place, a dance club may not sound like a dance club anymore.”
In order to help business owners and operators of these nightlife establishments, authorities will be announcing assistance packages should they wish to exit or transit to other types of businesses. Minister Wong said that these measures will be announced at a later date.
He also explained that the Covid-19 task force has laid out the expected changes for the Phase Three reopening, which could be expected before the end of the year.
“So even at the start of Phase 3, when we enter Phase 3, we do not expect to resume these activities any time soon,” he added.
When asked during the press conference about why the government is allowing “cruises to nowhere,” which allows up to 1,000 passengers or more, but not karaoke lounges that restrict patrons to five people in a private room, Minister Wong explained that the two activities are “quite different” since nightlife venues tend to force patrons to talk loudly, which puts people at a higher risk of infection.
He shared, “These are all activities which are known to be of higher risk and are more likely to be super-spreader events.”
Mr Wong also mentioned that additional requirements for nightlife venues will be discussed further with business owners. He said, “If they find it viable and they are also able to enforce and comply with the measures, indeed the activities can resume.”
He also pointed out that this particular industry needs to be prepared for “quite a long period of restrictions.” /TISG