Latest extension of Covid-19 curbs leaves S'pore's retailers 'in deep despair, disrepair'

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SINGAPORE - The latest month-long extension of Covid-19 restrictions, following round after round of tightened curbs this year, could sound the death knell for many businesses, said retailers and retail associations.

Singapore's front-line business community is "in deep despair and disrepair", said the Singapore Tenants United For Fairness (SGTUFF) group in a Facebook post on Wednesday (Oct 20).

The group was responding to the Government's announcement earlier on Wednesday that Covid-19 restrictions - such as capping group sizes for social gatherings and dining in at two people - will be extended until Nov 21.

The extension comes as the healthcare system is at risk of being overwhelmed. As at Wednesday, there were 3,862 new Covid-19 infections, and 18 deaths from complications linked to the virus.

In the statement on Facebook, SGTUFF said the extension "will sink the boat for many of us who have been barely hanging on".

"Just this year alone, we have been badly hit by four waves of restrictions of increasing severity and negative impact to traffic and business," said the statement, which added that the vast majority of business owners "will still have to dig deeper into whatever they have left in their own pockets to be able to pay for staff salaries, rentals and many other overheads".

The executive director of Singapore Retailers Association, Ms Rose Tong, mirrored the group's sentiments, saying: "The retail sector is already in dire straits, and the latest announcement is going to (sound) the death knell for so many businesses. More retailers will be decimated and we anticipate potential job losses."

On Wednesday, the Health Ministry also announced that the Government will offer wage support of 25 per cent under the extended Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) for sectors that are significantly affected by the continuing curbs. These include businesses in the food and beverage, retail, and gym and fitness sectors.

"We are grateful for handouts, but that's not what retailers are looking for... we want to be able to do business," said Ms Tong, adding that footfall has dropped drastically with every round of restrictions and safe management measures.

SGTUFF called for urgent help in several areas such as rental subsidies for four weeks; higher wage support of 50 per cent under the JSS ...

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