As the stricter circuit breaker measures kicked in on Wednesday (22 April), many food and beverage (F&B) businesses are making fast adjustments to their operations in order to comply with the new measures.
However, Channel News Asia (CNA) reported that some businesses are still confused if they can continue to open their outlets and what they are allowed to sell.
Based on the tighter measures that were announced on Tuesday (21 April), standalone shops that only sell drinks, packaged snacks, confectionery, or desserts have to close their doors temporarily. Additionally, manufacturing plants that make items like cakes, ice-cream, and chocolates are also banned from operating for the time being.
A certain number of businesses that CNA spoke to revealed that they are in the midst of clarifying with the Ministry of Trade & Industry (MTI) if they can continue to open their shops and what are they allowed to sell.
One bakery stated that it is not sure if it can deliver cakes for online orders that it had taken before the tighter measures were announced. On the other hand, another bakery that sells mainly pastries like croissants said that is awaiting further instruction from MTI before deciding its next course of action.
However, MTI had mentioned that bakeries that focus on selling mostly bread are exempted from the suspension, but those that sell other items like cakes are not exempted. For shops that sell cakes, they can only sell the existing cakes in store and can’t bake new cakes for sale.
As such, bakeries that sell primarily bread like Four Leaves bakery will continue to open its doors for customers, but those that sell mainly cakes like Bengawan Solo are temporarily closed.
For all the cakes and kaya that are still in stock at Bengawan Solo outlets, the company noted that these items will be donated to food charity Willing Hearts as well as to migrant workers via Project Chilia Street.
Director of Bengawan Solo Henry Liew remarked that the company will continue to pay salary for nearly 400 of its employees from over 40 of its retail outlets and the central kitchens, CNA reported.
Separately, in a Facebook post, Bakery PrimaDeli stated that it will suspend all production of cake immediately. Two outlets of the company told CNA that it will close their stores as most of the products will not be available.
“With the new measures announced by the government yesterday (21 April 2020), PrimaDéli will be suspending all cake production with immediate effect,” it said.
It added, “Do keep a lookout for updates on our outlet operating hours on both our website and social media platforms.”
On the other hand, the food business that is well known for its curry puffs, Old Chang Kee, noted that most of its stores will continue operating for takeaways and delivery, given that their business falls under the “hot/cooked snacks or bread” category.
For shops that sell multiple food items, the Ministry said that it will take into consideration what items they can sell.
“For example, if you predominantly sell hot meals and some selection of desserts, you can continue sales of all the food items that are not within the manufacturing suspended scope,” the Ministry asserted.
However, under the new rules, outlets that sell dessert and drinks at hawker centres, coffeeshops, as well as food courts are still permitted to open their stores. Lao Ban Soya Beancurd wrote in a Facebook post that some of its stores will continue operations, such as the one at Old Airport Road hawker centre.
Besides that, shops that sell predominately coffee and tea will have to shut their doors, but cafes like Starbucks will be opened for takeaway and delivery given that the beverage chain still offers food. Other F&B businesses that are affected under the new tighter rules include those that sell mainly nuts, potato chips, popcorn, and bak kwa.
Meanwhile, companies like Bee Cheng Hiang and Irvins are encouraging customers to place orders online since their physical stores will be closed.
Stores that continue to operate still practice safe distancing
Although some F&B outlets have been given the green light to continue its operation, CNA noted that the eateries still practice safe distancing measures and take all the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Some of the measures include taking the employees’ temperature twice a day as well as requiring all workers to wear masks and maintaining a safe distance from other co-workers, customers, and delivery riders.
If that’s not all, most of them hinted that they are also cleaning their stores more often now.
Old Chang Kee revealed that it has decreased the number of staff across all outlets and its central kitchen by 20 per cent “to cope with the new guidelines”.
KFC announced that it has put in place a “contactless takeaway” system at its outlets where customers will be notified when their order is ready, so as to avoid unnecessary waiting at the restaurant.
“For the safety of our older staff who are considered the ‘at-risk’ group, we have reassigned them from the front line counter to do lighter work in the kitchen to minimise their contact with customers,” a spokeswoman explained.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that Singapore will extend its COVID-19 “circuit breaker” measures until 1 June, given that the total number of cases have “risen sharply” since the onset of the outbreak in the country.
His announcement has resulted to the tighter restriction on F&B outlets announced by COVID-19 Multi-Ministry Taskforce.
On Thursday, Singapore recorded another 1,037 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 11,178.