A retailers group representing 3,823 retail outlets in Singapore has warned that the business community is in “deep despair and disrepair” as authorities extend Covid-19 restrictions to deal with a deadly virus wave that has seen a sharp rise in daily cases and deaths.
The Singapore Tenants United for Fairness, formed in early 2020 just as the pandemic began threatening businesses and retailers in the republic, said the one-month extension of social restrictions – dubbed by the government as the “Stabilisation Phase” – would “sink the boat for many of us”.
“Just this year alone, we have been badly hit by four waves of restrictions of increasing severity and negative impact on traffic and business,” the group said in a statement.
It said aid packages announced by the government were not sufficient, adding that business owners have been forced to pay salaries and rentals out of their own pockets.
“Beyond the financial impact, the mental and physical health costs to business owners, our staff, our families and the ecosystem system of businesses we support have been hard to quantify and under-stated/reported but no less real than direct casualties of the Covid virus itself.”
Singapore, once praised for its handling of the pandemic with near zero cases each day, began stuggling with a sharp spike just as authorities announced the reopening of business and daily activities last month.
Yesterday, a record 18 deaths were reported with 3,862 new infections, bringing total casualties to 264, and close to 160,000 total cases in the island state of 5.7 million.
The group pleaded with the government to give rental subsidies for another month and extend bank loan moratoriums by a year, saying landlords and banks had been making record profits over the past months.
“We think it is unconscionable that big landlords and banks are unwilling to extend a helpful hand to us when we need it most,” it added.
The group also criticised the government’s move to allow safe travel schemes under the Vaccinated Travel Lanes, saying this would only lead to an outflow of money that could have been spent locally.
It said businesses also expect to take a further hit if the government goes ahead with increasing the GST to 9%.