Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)’s member Damanhuri Abas took to his Facebook on Monday (27 April) voicing support for Home-Based Businesses (HBB) to continue operating in coping with their precarious lives, despite circuit breaker measures being underway to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
“If I am the person in position of authority, this would be my respond to the issue,” Mr Abas wrote in his post.
He said, “I/We truly empathise with the support shown towards the HBB in this difficult times. It reflects on the one hand the struggle of individuals/families trying to find ways and means to make ends meet under such extraordinary circumstances.”
“On the other hand it manifest the desire of many willing to support such HBB in this times in the spirit of sharing and support for fellow citizens.”
Therefore, he noted that they would “show utmost flexibility” in allowing HBB’s operators to continue providing the food services within the means and to their best capacity.
In line with SGUnited spirit, Mr Abas also reminded all the operators of HBB to do their part to ensure compliance with the social distancing measures within the reasonable means, which has been shown through the commendable collective efforts by most Singaporeans amid the circuit breaker period.
“We are confident all will endeavour to do so,” he remarked.
“Our officers will nevertheless be observing the implementation of the HBB and provide advice when needed to best achieve the objective of the Circuit Breaker while at the same time being cognisant of our need to hear you and your needs. Lets us all continue to do our best under this extraordinary circumstances,” he added, as part of his “response”.
Home-based businesses may face S$1,000 fine if business owners leave their premises or have third-party services to deliver or collect goods
In light of the stringent circuit breaker measures, HBB owners are faced with a dilemma on delivering their products to customers, especially with the upcoming Hari Raya celebrations.
According to a joint statement by the Ministry for Trade and Industry (MTI), Ministry for Environment and Water Resources (MEWR), Housing Development Board (HDB), and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), home-based businesses that do not meet a specific set of criteria during the circuit breaker period will have to cease operations or face a S$1,000 fine.
In order to continue operating, the authorities noted that the business should operate only online, without requiring the business owners and staff to leave their respective premises, and does not involve needing any visitors or customers or third-party delivery services at the premises to collect and deliver goods.
MEWR Minister Masagos Zulkifli said on his Facebook on Monday (27 Apr) that he is aware that HBB operators are affected by this regulations and are frustrated at not being able to make the most of their month-long Ramadan and Hari Raya reservations.
However, in his post, Mr Zulkifli also criticised those who attempt to “incite” the HBB operators to pressure the Government into making exceptions for them during this period of heightened circuit breaker measures.
He said, “This is irresponsible. They are purportedly fighting for the rights of the entrepreneurs but in fact they’re only rubbing more salt into their wounds — because they know the Government cannot make exceptions to any sector affected in the TCB period.”
“If the HBB operators continue their business as usual, they run the risk of being infected or becoming a cluster of COVID-19 cases — more so near Raya, when orders pile up,” he added.
As reported by TODAY, a petition titled, “Allow Small Home-Based F&B Businesses to Operate with Compliance to Circuit Breaker Rules” has been created, calling for authorities to revise their approach in handling HBB in view of the COVID-19 situation.
On the other hand, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong hinted that the regulations imposed on home-based F&B businesses may be eased if there is a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in the community.
“If the numbers are brought down, we may very well relax some of the restrictions, and at that time, we will let Singaporeans know when this or any other activities that we think can start will be able to resume,” he said during a press conference.