|Singapore Analytical Update | April 3, 2020
Authors: Lilibeth Almonte-Arbez, Sarah Lessing, J-ren Ong, Marc Mealy, Shay Wester, Kim Yaeger
Singapore Government “Circuit Breaker” Measures to Contain COVID-19
On April 3, 2020, Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong announced that Singapore would be taking decisive action to prevent escalating COVID-19 cases. He likened stricter measures to a “circuit breaker” which would “reduce the risk of a big outbreak occurring”. Singapore has been progressively tightening its social distancing measures, by encouraging work from home for businesses and enforcing social distancing measures in public spaces. The Council released an update on earlier measures.
Government service counters will be scaled down while digital services will continue to be available. On April 8, 2020, all schools and higher learning institutions will close and move to full home-based learning.
From April 7, 2020, workplaces key economic sectors and essential services will be closed until May 4, 2020. F&B outlets (including restaurants, hawker centres, coffeeshops and food courts) can continue to operate for take-away and/or delivery only.
The specific industries that the Singapore government highlighted as essential are:
The government also singled out other services that will not be affected by workplace closures such as:
The Government of Singapore will update the list of essential services at https://covid.gobusiness.gov.sg/essentialservices/.
Entities providing essential services must comply with the following:
i. All activities that can take place through telecommuting must be done from home.
ii. Employers must implement safe distancing measures to reduce physical interactions by:
Application for essential services exemption
A company has to suspend on-site activities if the company’s activities are not listed as essential. If a company believes that its activities are essential, an application for an exemption must be coursed through https://covid.gobusiness.gov.sg with the relevant supporting information including justifications for why activities are essential. All applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Companies must wait for approval of their exemption application before re-commencing onsite activities.
General or time-limited exemptions for non-essential services companies
Through https://covid.gobusiness.gov.sg, companies providing non-essential services could apply for a general exemption to maintain a small workforce at the place of business for safety purposes or for a time-limited exemption for selected functions that need to continue but cannot be performed via telecommuting due to sensitivity (e.g. payroll processing); to perform maintenance of the facility, attend to perishable products, receive deliveries or perform other necessary tasks. Please apply for a time-limited exemption here.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) issued a press release on the suspension of activities at workplace premises to reduce COVID-19 transmission. A copy of MTI guidelines on the suspension of activities at workplace premises to reduce COVID-19 transmission is attached. Recent Singapore government announcements on COVID-19 are available here.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MITI) has also established a hotline for enquiries at:
+65 6898 1800 (Monday to Sunday, 8am to 8pm)
or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Council will continue to monitor developments and update members.