New lockdown to squeeze F&B industry again

Updated: Aug 25, 2021

For Singapore’s food and beverage industry workers, the world’s worst economic rollercoaster is continuing.

After just one month of partial reopening in Singapore, the hospitality industry has been forced to close once more, leaving the country’s food and beverage employers, and their staff, out on a limb.

The four-week semi-lockdown, which will start on Thursday 22 July, was implemented as a result of two serious Covid clusters, possibly emanating from defensive breaches in Singapore’s border protection measures. One major outbreak has occurred through the Jurong Port Fish Market, which has remained open to Indonesiann fishing trawlers. Several karaoke clubs were the combined source of a second outbreak.

Singapore’s Covid-19 caseload skyrocketed from under 10 cases per day in early July to nearly a week of over 100 (some days approaching 200) by the middle of the month.

Singapore’s meteoric jump in numbers led to the shattering news that the entire F&B industry would close to dine-in traffic after only one month of recouping revenue since the previous partial lockdown when dine-in was prohibited between mid-May and mid-July.

One hospitality group director told Chief of Staff Asia the latest lockdown could be the last straw for many businesses. “We, as did many of our competitors, followed the rules and regulations by the letter,” he said. “We are doing our best to staff on full wages, however, we are the exception to the norm and don’t know how long we can hold that position.”

Adding to the uncertainty is that the majority of F&B staff are in the country on work passes specifically for that industry. “Without foreigners to fill these roles (because they have left the industry or even gone back to their home nations), we could be witnessing the slow death of Food and Beverage. This lockdown could be the final straw.”

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