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COVID-19: Home-Based F&B Businesses May Not Be Allowed To Operate Under Circuit Breaker Rules

In a joint statement on Saturday (April 25) by four government agencies — the Trade and Industry Ministry, Environment and Water Resources Ministry, Housing Board and Urban Redevelopment Authority — home-based businesses will only be allowed to continue to operate during the circuit breaker period if they meet certain criteria.

These requirements include operating strictly online without requiring business owners or staff to leave their homes.

Customers or third-party delivery services are also not allowed to collect or deliver goods themselves.

If the nature of the home-based business does not meet the stipulated regulations, they would have to cease operations or risk facing a S$1,000 fine for a first-time offence.

Repeat offenders will face higher fines or prosecution in court.

“During the circuit breaker period, home-based businesses in public and private housing can operate only if all the criteria in the Ministry of Health’s guidelines and the latest provision under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 are met,” said the agencies, stressing the need to reduce human interaction to curb the spread of the virus.

Help For These Owners Who Have Lost Their Income

Some home-based food businesses have raised concerns about the tightened circuit breaker measures, especially those that have already accepted orders for the coming Hari Raya celebrations.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development Faishal Ibrahim said he was aware of the concerns of affected home-based food businesses.

“I understand that some have taken orders for Ramadan and Hari Raya and are impacted by these measures. This is indeed a very difficult time for everyone, especially during this festive season,” he said.

Home-based business owners whose incomes are affected by the circuit breaker can turn to a number of support initiatives, such as the Temporary Relief Fund, the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme and Workfare Special Payment.

A number of Malay and Muslim organisations are also offering assistance schemes under the SGTeguhBersatu initiative, he added.

Affected businesses may also apply for an exemption here, or contact HDB for any queries.

Petition For HDB, MTI To Revise The Rules

Screenshot from change.org

Following this news, an online petition has been created to urge HDB and MTI to revise these rules.

Instead of imposing prohibitions and bans, the creator suggested ways for home-based businesses to adapt their operations around the circuit breaker rules.

Citing Grab as an example, she said that it is still able to operate and deliver food, albeit restrictions.

She stressed that the “same approach” could be taken for small home-based F&B operations, adding that they must first comply to food hygiene rules as stipulated by Singapore Food Agency and implement social distancing measures when executing deliveries.

For pick-ups: This should be treated like an Essential Service so customers should be allowed to pick up their food the same way that they would go to the grocery store to buy their essentials, i.e. alone, with face mask and without any unnecessary loitering. This is already part of the regulations for F&B establishments that are allowed to continue operating.

Alternatively, home-based sellers could call a GrabExpress to deliver their treats to the customers. So as to not breach social distancing efforts, there should be no mass deliveries allowed, i.e. there can only be one delivery guy to one destination.

Avoid face-to-face deals by leaving the packages outside their homes, right when they are notified by the deliverer’s arrival. To ensure hygiene standards continue to be adhered to, sellers must make sure the food is contained and sealed properly, placed on a surface elevated from the floor, away from shoe racks and anything else that is unhygienic.

Lastly, the food should not be left outside for longer than a minute so sellers and deliverers must be in close correspondence via phone or text.

– Nadia Fae, creator of the Change.org petition to support home-based businesses

The online petition is aiming for 75,000 supporters and over 60,000 people have already signed. If you wish to also sign the petition, you can do so here.

Featured Image Credit: Forbes

 

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