Pilots to reopen nightclubs, karaoke outlets put on hold
Recent rise in community cases and high-risk settings in nightspots reasons for indefinite postponement
The recent rise in Covid-19 infections in the community has stopped the music before even the first note is struck - at least for the time being.
The pilots to allow a limited number of selected nightclubs and karaoke outlets to reopen with stringent safe management measures this month have been deferred until further notice, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Home Affairs announced yesterday.
Noting the increase in community cases, some of which are currently unlinked and under investigation, the ministries said the postponement was aimed at preventing "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".
The pilot scheme was announced on Nov 6 last year, and the pilot for bars and pubs began on Dec 8, with three outlets reopening for business.
Two nightclubs and 10 karaoke outlets were shortlisted for their respective pilots, which were due to start this month.
Two KTV operators, whose outlets had been selected for the pilots, were disappointed by the deferment.
Mr Frank Per, who owns Sing My Song Family Karaoke, told The New Paper that the announcement had come out of the blue. "I was disappointed when I heard the news. We had made all the preparations, including installing CCTV cameras in all our 37 rooms, and passed the inspection 10 days ago. We were looking forward to reopening," he said.
Mr Per, who is treasurer of the Singapore Entertainment Affiliation representing KTV operators, said the pilot had been a small step in a positive direction for karaoke operators.
He added: "As the rest of Singapore is opening up and people can dine in groups of eight without masks, I do not understand why two people singing karaoke with masks on and using a disposable microphone cover is still not allowed."
Cash Studio Family Karaoke's managing partner, Mr Caine Poon, said: "It's disappointing, especially because we do not have a definite date for when the pilot will start.
"We are still paying rent and salaries, and time is not on our side. It won't be too long before more karaoke outlets close for good."
A total of 59 nightclubs, discotheques, dance clubs and karaoke outlets wound up in the first half of last year, according to the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority.
Given the dynamic public health situation, it is uncertain when the pilots can start, said the ministries. A review will be done at a suitable time.
They added that they are working with the shortlisted operators on the next steps for their businesses and assisting them individually.
The pilot for bars and pubs will continue for now, with the situation being closely monitored.
Nightlife patrons took the deferment in their stride, with club DJ Vanessa Ho, 21, saying: "Given how nightlife in South Korea had caused its second wave, I am happy to find fun elsewhere.
"Though I miss going to clubs, I don't mind waiting until the situation improves."
Mr Vishal Mohan, 23, who used to go clubbing weekly, said: "I would not have gone clubbing during the pilot as I would not put myself through the pain of having myself tested."
Mr Mohan, who runs a talent management company, added that clubbers may have also got used to alternative forms of entertainment.
"We have learned to enjoy other activities like meeting each other at our own homes to have drinks and play games in small groups."