The pilot programme to allow limited number of nightlife outlets to reopen, is put on hold till future notice due to recent increase of community cases in Singapore.

Earlier on 6 November last year, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced that the Government will run small-scale pilots for the nightlife industry to allow a limited number of nightlife outlets (bars, pubs, nightclubs, discotheques and karaoke establishments) to reopen with stringent safe management measures (SMMs).

This proposed pilot programme was aimed to establish the viability and robustness of the stringent SMMs in ensuring the safe conduct of the activities, and the ability of the nightlife industry to comply with them, before the Government considers further steps in the resumption of nightlife businesses.

Under this programme, clubbing and karaoke singing will be open only to local residents and those with work passes, who must show proof of having taken a Covid-19 test in the last 24 hours before they can enter a joint.

Clubs will have a capacity limit of up to 100 people, with separate dancing and dining zones that can hold 50 people each. Customers will have to wear face masks at the dance floor and stay 2m apart from other groups, indicated by floor markings and physical barriers.

No live entertainment and performances will be allowed either.

Karaoke establishments, on the other hand, will be allowed to have groups of up to five people within enclosed rooms that will have to be cleaned, disinfected and aired for 15 minutes between groups.

Eating and drinking will be allowed within the rooms.

In both types of venues, no hosts will be allowed to be deployed to interact with customers, as a measure to reduce interactions.

Nightlife business associations were also invited to nominate suitable nightclubs and karaoke outlets to participate in the pilots. MTI and MHA received a total of eight nominations for nightclubs and 15 nominations for karaoke outlets. After a careful review of the nominations, two nightclubs and 10 karaoke outlets were shortlisted, with the aim of commencing the pilot in January 2021, subject to the prevailing COVID-19 situation and lead time required to prepare for the pilot.

However, due to the increase in the number of community cases in Singapore recently, of which some cases are currently unlinked and under investigation. the pilots have been deferred until further notice 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

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

On 8 December last year, MTI and MHA announced that a “limited number” of nightlife establishments will be allowed to reopen with COVID-19 safety measures in place under a pilot programme. A total of three bars and pubs were allowed to operate under this pilot programme and are still operating till today. They are: Bar Kiharu at Orchard Plaza, Bell Bar at Cuppage Plaza and Skinny’s Lounge at Boat Quay.

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

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