I. Resumption of Nightlife Establishments that Pivoted to F&B Operations
Operators which are not allowed to resume operations will be notified by agencies. They had previously breached Safe Management Measures (SMMs), including failing to prevent large groups of patrons from intermingling; allowing live entertainment (e.g. live singing and dancing, playing of musical instruments) and games (e.g. dice and billiards); and failing to ensure 1 metre safe distancing between customers and staff.
The list of pivoted nightlife establishments which are not permitted to open is available on GoBusiness Singapore here.
Some nightlife establishments which pivoted to F&B operations had continued to carry out activities associated with nightlife activities, in flagrant disregard of SMMs. Persistent breaches of these SMMs and the cluster outbreak at pivoted establishments have made it necessary for the Government to tighten measures, so as to further mitigate public health risks and facilitate enforcement checks.
These measures will be reviewed as and when necessary, such as when we have reached an endemic COVID-19 situation in Singapore.
Establishments that do not pass inspections will not be allowed to reopen until they pass a later inspection, which they may apply for when they are ready.
Establishments may write to the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) via email@example.com to appeal against the decision of non-resumption of operations.
Operators can apply to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to convert their premises to a restaurant for the longer term at https://licence1.business.gov.sg/feportal/web/frontier/home. Only proposals for full-fledged restaurants may be considered, subject to full compliance with the restaurant guidelines, including the provision of proper kitchens. However, as announced on 16 July 2021, the processing of applications has been suspended until 15 October 2021, pending review of the requirements.
Operators will need to make a Change of Use application with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) if they wish to use their premises for other activities. The application is subject to assessment, taking into consideration the planning intention for the site, compatibility, and potential impact of the proposed use with the surroundings, and the prevailing policies/guidelines.
The nightlife industry is the only industry that has not been allowed to operate throughout the pandemic. As such, government agencies had worked together to help interested operators temporarily pivot to other operations in a quick and less costly manner, such that the operators would be able to revert to their usual operations when the nightlife sector is able to reopen. There are an estimated 10,000 locals employed in this sector. This move allowed nightlife establishments to at least have some revenue in the interim.
Besides temporarily pivoting to F&B operations, nightlife establishments may also apply to convert operations to another industry insofar as they obtain a Change of Use approval from the URA and meet the various requirements.
There is no extension of the one-year food licence under the temporary pivot scheme.
Operators which intend to operate F&B services after the expiry of the one-year food license will need to obtain a Change of Use approval from the URA to convert to a restaurant. Only proposals for full-fledged restaurants may be considered, subject to full compliance with the restaurant guidelines, including the provision of proper kitchens.
II. Closure of Nightlife Establishments and Government Support
This set of FAQs applies to businesses that are pubs, nightclubs, discotheques, dance clubs, and karaoke outlets. It covers companies that hold an SFA Foodshop (Pubs, Bars, Nightclub, Discos) licence, and have not been permitted to operate since March 2020.
Nightlife establishments will not be able to reopen in their original form for some time. The settings of nightlife activities entail a large number of people coming into close contact for prolonged periods of time, and often in enclosed spaces, which pose a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission. Hence, we are taking a cautious approach in the reopening of this sector and must ensure that the public health risks associated with COVID-19 are mitigated before doing so.
To help affected nightlife businesses during this period, the Government will provide financial support to nightlife businesses that wish to pivot their businesses to activities that are currently permitted, or to exit the industry. We had previously announced that we will also work with the nightlife industry on a few pilots to reopen the sector with safe management measures (SMMs) in place. While the pilot for bars and pubs commenced in December 2020, the pilot for nightclubs and karaoke outlets has been deferred in view of the increase in community cases.
Nightlife operators that wish to convert operations to a permitted activity may apply to Enterprise Singapore (“ESG”) for a grant to defray qualifying costs incurred during the pivoting process such as costs related to refurbishment works, and the purchase of kitchen and service equipment.
Companies can apply to ESG through the Singapore Nightlife Business Association (“SNBA”) at firstname.lastname@example.org to seek financial support for pivoting to other uses. The support will be available until 30 September 2021.
As nightlife businesses are not permitted to open for the time being, operators may consider making a commercial decision to pivot, remain closed or exit the industry, based on their own business assessment.
For nightlife establishments intending to exit the industry, companies can apply to ESG through SNBA to seek financial support to offset one month of retrenchment benefit to be paid to local employees, capped at the industry median monthly wage of $3,000.
Firms can also apply to ESG to seek an ex-gratia payment of $30,000 to defray the costs associated with the cessation of business.
To begin your grant application process for winding down, please reach out to SNBA at email@example.com. The support will be available until 30 September 2021.
Companies which have received the pivot support package will not be eligible for the exit support package. We strongly advise companies to consider the available options and make their own business assessment on the next steps prior to any application for support.
For nightlife operators who had taken the initiative to change their business activity earlier, ESG will be prepared to extend the pivot support package on a case-by-case basis. Operators may write to SNBA at firstname.lastname@example.org to appeal for the pivot support package. Such appeals will be assessed by ESG subsequently on a case-by-case basis.
Nightlife operators who had exited the industry or are in the process of doing so may qualify for the exit support package if they are still registered with Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (“ACRA”) at the point of application. The retrenchment benefit support will be tied to the number of local employees at the point of application. Employers who have retrenched their employees and provided the retrenchment benefit prior to the effective date of the exit support package may write to SNBA at email@example.com. Such appeals will be assessed by ESG on a case-by-case basis.
Companies which are recipients of the pivot or exit support package will not be eligible to participate in the pilots.
The Simplified Insolvency Programme (SIP) aims to provide simpler, faster, and lower-cost proceedings to assist micro and small companies in need for winding up or restructuring. It comprises two separate programmes: (a) Simplified Debt Restructuring Programme for viable businesses; and (b) Simplified Winding Up Programme for non-viable businesses. Companies may apply for the programmes here before 28 July 2021.
III. Application and Licensing Procedure for Pivoting to Permissible Activities
Nightlife operators intending to operate F&B establishments must submit a Change of Use application with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (“URA”) to obtain planning permission to convert the premises into an F&B establishment.
Nightlife operators that wish to convert to F&B operations should first register their interest with MTI through SNBA at firstname.lastname@example.org. This would allow us to prioritise your subsequent regulatory submissions to the relevant agencies, as well as advise you on the support provided to nightlife operators.
Nightlife operators which obtained URA’s endorsement between 6 November 2020 and 14 May 2021 for a one-year temporary conversion to operate F&B activities will subsequently be required to file a Change of Use application with URA if they wish to continue F&B activities when their one-year temporary conversion expires.
Nightlife businesses are required to change their SSIC code if their current code is not reflective of their new business activity. Operators who have converted to permitted activities should notify Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (“ACRA”) by updating the changes of their company’s information on BizFile+ within 14 days. You may login your Singpass here.
The process to acquire the necessary licences and approvals from relevant agencies to change to F&B operations will take approximately three weeks from the date of submission of a completed application. If there are substantial changes to your layout for changing to a restaurant or other commercial use, the process may take longer, depending on the type of renovation required.
Nightlife establishments that have received URA’s endorsement for a one-year temporary conversion to F&B operations will be able to revert their premises to the original approved use within one year from receiving the SFA foodshop licence to carry out F&B operations, subject to the prevailing COVID-19 regulations and public health considerations associated with COVID-19. No change of use application is required.
Operators who wish to operate F&B activities must apply for a new SFA foodshop (Restaurant/Snack Counter) licence and will not be allowed to amend their existing SFA PBND licence. Operators will not be able to hold both SFA foodshop and PBND licences concurrently.
Public Entertainment (PE) licences which have been issued to operators will remain valid until their expiry date. Once the PE licences expire, operators who wish to provide PE other than the transmission of recorded music in restaurants, will need to apply for a new PE licence, subject to such activities being permitted by the Government at the time of application.
Existing liquor licences that have been issued to operators will remain valid until their expiry date.
A Restaurant licence allows an operator to sell food that require extensive preparation or cooking. The operator needs to set up a full-fledge kitchen that has sufficient preparation and storage equipment, wash area, cooking range with exhaust system, etc.
A Snack counter licence allows operators to sell food that can be cooked/heated up and do not require extensive food preparation, e.g., pizza (pre-packed frozen pizza from supermarket/factory), chicken wings, potato wedges, fishballs, etc. The operator will need basic cooking/heating equipment such as air-fryers, microwaves, ovens etc. Unlike for a restaurant licence, they will not need to set up a full-fledged kitchen.
Nightlife operators who wish to convert their operations to a permitted activity must file for a Change of Use application with the URA. The processing fees for a Change of Use application is $535 (inclusive of GST). Applicants would also need to pay the $195 licensing fee for the application of a new SFA foodshop licence, if applicable. Other costs that could be incurred include renovation costs and administrative costs, such as application for a fire safety certificate, if required.
A PE licence is valid only for the period stated in the licence and the period cannot be varied. For PE licensees who decide to terminate their licence as a result of the COVID-19 situation, and wish to seek a refund of the paid licence fees, the Singapore Police Force (“SPF”) will assess each request on a case by case basis. The operator may apply for a new PE licence in the future, but the application will be assessed based on its merits at that point and subject to the prevailing laws and policies.
Applicants that have received an advisory note from URA to revise and re-submit their plans/proposal within the validity of the advisory note do not need to pay additional fees. However, applicants that have received a final rejection for a change of use would need to submit a fresh application if they wish to apply again.
All nightlife establishments that wish to convert their business activity to F&B are required to provide their food preparation area within the premises for food to be served at the same place.
Operators may only work with another F&B establishment if the supplying establishment holds a food processing establishment licence from SFA. Nonetheless, nightlife operators would still be required to convert to an F&B establishment or other permitted commercial use in order to reopen.
The PE licence will remain valid for the period stated in the licence for the current location. The operator may apply for a new PE licence in the future for the new location, but the application will be assessed by the Police based on its merits and subject to the prevailing laws and policies.
The renovation of your premise would be required if there is a substantial change in the layout of the premise, such as putting up a full-fledged kitchen if one is converting to a restaurant.
Applicants should reach out to URA, SFA, or other relevant agencies to confirm if renovation is required, depending on the type of activity that applicants are converting to. Please refrain from committing on tenancy or renovation works before receiving confirmation from the relevant agencies.
Operators should only apply for a new fire safety certificate with Singapore Civil Defence Force (“SCDF”) if substantial changes to the layout of the premises (e.g., renovation) have been made, which require fire safety works.
Such fire safety works include change in design and layout of fire compartments or spaces that affect means of escape, relocation of fire safety products (e.g. hose-reels, fire alarm panels, emergency exit signs, fire doors/doors which affect the means of escape), etc.
Operators who wish to commence or carry out any proposed fire safety works in any building shall apply, in accordance with the Regulations made under the Fire Safety Act to SCDF for approval of the plan for fire safety works. Such plans shall be prepared and submitted by Qualified Persons (QPs) who are registered architects or professional engineers on behalf of the building owners. Upon full completion of all fire safety works, the QP engaged by the operator must apply and obtain the fire safety certificate before using or occupying the premises.
To convert to a F&B establishment, there must be a kitchen or food preparation area located within the premise to prepare and serve food for patrons to dine in. The bar counter must also be repurposed for such uses.
Restaurants are premises primarily used for the sale of food for consumption at the premise without performance of live music, or live entertainment. A restaurant cannot be used as a bar. For more details, you may refer to the criteria for restaurant here.
If you intend to convert your premise to a restaurant, please first register your interest with MTI through SNBA at email@example.com. This would allow us to prioritise your subsequent regulatory submissions to the relevant agencies, as well as advise you on the support provided to nightlife operators. You will subsequently be required to submit a Change of Use application with URA.
Smoking rooms are not allowed within the F&B establishment, and all existing smoking rooms must remain closed during the period of conversion from a nightlife establishment to F&B establishment.
When the premise is converted back to a nightlife establishment, the previously approved smoking room, which is contingent on the Public Entertainment Licence (PEL), may resume operations, subject to prevailing regulations on smoking facilities.
In the event that the PEL is not renewed by the time of reversion, the smoking room must remain close until a valid PEL is obtained.
IV. Exit Support Package and Other Government Support for Winding Down
The payout is intended to help nightlife businesses who had not been allowed to operate, defray a portion of their retrenchment benefit to be paid to affected local employees during this challenging period. It is not intended to replace employers’ contractual obligations.
Employers are still expected to honour the retrenchment benefit amounts which are provided for in the employment contract, memoranda of understanding or collective agreement (for unionised companies) which are contractual entitlements. If unable to do so due to the financial circumstances, employers should negotiate with the unions/employees on a mutually acceptable retrenchment benefit package.
Employers are strongly encouraged to adhere to the advisories, including the provision of retrenchment benefit to help affected employees while they search for employment.
We strongly encourage employers receiving the exit package to provide retrenchment benefit beyond the limits of the financial support provided by the Government.
Employers are strongly encouraged to adhere to the advisories, including to provide retrenchment benefits to help all affected employees, both local and foreign.
In the event of a dispute, employees who wish to seek assistance can approach MOM for assistance. Employees with contractual claims (i.e. retrenchment benefit spelt out in the employment contract or collective agreement) for retrenchment benefit will be referred to the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management to file their claims. More details can be found here.
Only companies which are exiting the industry are eligible for the retrenchment benefit support. Companies which are currently participating in the pilot or suspending operations temporarily will not qualify.
The exit support package is intended for companies which are exiting from the industry. Companies which took up the exit support will not be allowed to participate in the pilot or reopen as a nightlife business for the next 12 months. Companies should consider the options and make their own business assessment before application.
Workers may refer to Workforce Singapore (“WSG”)’s website here for resources on seeking alternative employment.
No. Employers should continue to fulfil existing statutory/contractual obligations using their own finances. Failure to pay salary constitutes an offence under the Employment Act.
Employers must give due notice or pay in lieu of notice and fulfil all other contractual obligations e.g. annual leave encashment, notice pay, before ending the employment relationship.
Employees who wish to seek assistance with their retrenchment can approach MOM. Employees with contractual claims (i.e. retrenchment benefit spelt out in the employment contract or collective agreement) for retrenchment benefit will be referred to the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management to file their claims.
The company’s licenses should be terminated, and the company’s name should be struck off from the register of the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (“ACRA”). The company should submit (i) proof of rescission of operating licenses and (ii) notices and filings indicating commencement of strike-off or wind-up process (e.g. strike off notice from ACRA) within 3 months of receiving the letter of offer. Please refer to the ACRA website here for details on closing a company in Singapore.
The company may use the ex-gratia payout of $30,000 to defray costs associated with the cessation of business, including but not limited to early lease terminations costs, reinstatement costs, and labour-related costs.