SRA’s response to MTF’s announcement

October 12, 2021

We Need To Respect The Covid-19 Virus But Not Be Paralysed By It!

From Dorscon Orange in Feb 2020 to Circuit Breaker, then Heightened Alert and now the Stabilisation Phase, it has indeed been an arduous journey for everyone. We are forever indebted to the untold sacrifice of our frontline healthcare workers who faced Covid19 head on whilst they continue to cope with disruptions to their personal routines and plans. We are also especially grateful for the Government’s support along the way with various new and enhanced support schemes and grants to help businesses and retailers cope with cashflow, rental and manpower challenges , encourage digitalisation efforts to be productive & relevant.

Whilst we applaud the simplified 1-2-3 healthcare protocol for home recovery and increased VTLs as a means to better manage our healthcare resources and to reopen the economy, we are gravely concerned with the accompanying new restrictions of further limiting shopper traffic to malls.

The retail industry is already in dire straits and fraught with business challenges. The frequent changes on SMMs and tightened restrictions while well intended have only served to inject fear in shoppers and deter spending as well as increased retailers operating costs. Let us not stifle business growth further or numb malls and retailers sense of ownership and responsibility to uphold hygiene and ensure that their customers safety is paramount whilst at their premises. The fate of many retailers may well be determined by how strong Christmas sales will be. The new tightened restrictions on mall admission only for vaccinated persons on top of the cap of 2 pax for dining-in further limits the opportunity for sales conversion and may spell the knell for retailers, and if continued into the year end festive season which is just around the corner, will surely decimate more retailers.

Already retail sales have been quite a bumpy roller coaster ride the past 18 months – more downs (up to 90% drop in sales!) than ups (if any), and things are certainly not looking any better, even with more VTLs in place with effect 19 Oct 2021 . In fact, we fear that the tightened restrictions of 2 pax admission to malls, attractions and for dining will make Singapore a most unfriendly and unattractive destination for visitors looking to have a real holiday outside of their home country. Instead of being able to welcome these VTL visitors with open arms and see to increased sales, we envisage that we will also lose our domestic shoppers as they restrict further spending in Singapore in preparation for revenge shopping & dining overseas where there are far less restrictions maybe except for social distancing. Visitors may ponder if a visit to Singapore may be worth the effort given the restrictions and inconvenience which will curtail their enjoyment and experience. We expect the outflow’ of spending overseas will be far higher than the desired inflow (of tourists and spending).

If indeed Singapore is to live alongside Covid-19 as though it is just the flu, then let us show the world, and our VTLs visitors, how Singapore is bravely embracing the Covid-19 endemic pathway so that they can be a strong testament for future visitors. Imposing restrictions on access to malls , attractions and eating places will only serve to have the exact opposite effect.

Once again, we appeal to all eligible but unvaccinated retail workers to get vaccinated as soon as possible for your personal safety and that of your colleagues, family and friends and for Singapore.

Let us truly uphold PM Lee’s urging that Singapore must not be paralysed by fear and that we need to reconnect with the world – with reasonable caution.