As the nation re-enters Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) in response to rapidly growing COVID-19 clusters linked to pivoted KTV lounges and nightclubs, the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS) has called on the government to mandate rental rebates from landlords so as to enable tenants to continue operating.
Measures for Phase 2 (Heightened Alert), effective 22 July 2021 to 18 August 2021, include a reduction in group size for social gatherings from a maximum of 5 persons to a maximum of 2 persons and no dine-ins at food and beverages (F&B) establishments, among others.
The new measures will supersede the previously announced measures on 16 July that were meant to come into effect on 19 July.
In a statement on its Facebook page on 20 July following the announcement of Phase 2 by authorities, the RAS recounted the challenges faced by F&B operators over the past year and a half of having to cope with various mandated required Safe Management Measures.
Noting that most F&B operators have been operating at a reduced capacity of 40 per cent on average during the post-circuit breaker period, RAS stressed that “businesses have suffered in unprecedented ways”.
Touching on the rental rebates, the Association explained: “Through all these, most landlords have given only the government mandated rebates for the whole of 2020, and so far have yet to offer rebates beyond what the government has given to their tenants in government-owned properties, even with Phase 2 and 3 Heightened Alert measures.”
“And now with dine-ins curtailed again, there needs to be affirmative action,” it added.
Noting the “record earnings” announced by various REITS (real estate investment trusts) in recent months, the RAS said that this isn’t surprising given that “landlord rental income are spinning freely and hardly remitted”.
The Association went on list three ways in which it wants the government to mandate landlords to “meaningfully assist” their tenants in these difficult times.
The first proposal is to ensure that rental rebates are given voluntarily by landlords without the need for tenants to “grovel” for support each time the country enters a restricted safe mode.
RAS stressed, “Landlords have a duty in crisis to give rental rebates when there is [a] clear case of frustration.”
The second suggestion is for landlords to give rental rebates in proportion to the drop in revenues excluding revenues from deliveries.
Third, that landlords “should not be enjoying an insisting on collecting 100% rentals when their constituent tenants are unable (frustrated) from operating freely as contracted and make ends meet.”
RAS described this as “inequitable and unconscionable”.
“On behalf of F&B operators and all tenants, we call upon our government to mandate what is fair and just so that we can all, truly EMERGE STRONGER,” the statement concluded.
The statement was signed by 20 members of the RAS management committee including RAS President Andrew Kwan, President Advisor Vincent Tan, Vice Presidents Keith Chua and Dellen Soh and Member of Parliament for Holland Bukit Timah, Edward Chia who is also RAS’ Assistant Honorary Secretary.