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Companies reopening in Phase Two will have to rethink business models: Chan Chun Sing

SINGAPORE — Companies will have to change their business models to adapt to safe-distancing rules when Phase Two of Singapore’s reopening starts on Friday (June 19), said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing.

Companies reopening in Phase Two will have to rethink business models: Chan Chun Sing

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing at a dedicated call centre on June 16, 2020. It was set up to answer questions businesses have during and after the circuit breaker to contain Covid-19.

SINGAPORE — Companies will have to change their business models to adapt to safe-distancing rules when Phase Two of Singapore’s reopening starts on Friday (June 19), said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing. 

For example, he noted that some food and beverage (F&B) outlets are already planning to stagger their customers’ bookings, so that there is a limit on how many people can dine in at any particular time belt.

He said that this is a common practice among restaurants during special occasions, such as Valentine’s Day or Chinese New Year. 

“While the capacity is reduced at any one time, the turnover is increased, so you get back to about the same number (of customers),” he said. 

It was announced on Monday that Phase Two will begin on Friday. Restaurants will be allowed to reopen for dining in, and tuition centres, sports facilities and gyms will be among businesses that can resume operations. 

But they will have to abide by certain rules. For example, they have to impose limits on the number of people who can be in the premises at any time and try to ensure that customers are always 1m apart. F&B outlets must also stop liquor sales and consumption by 10.30pm every day.

As businesses reconfigure their strategies for this phase, Mr Chan said they can tap a dedicated government call centre for help and advice.

He was speaking to the media on Tuesday at the call centre in Tai Seng, set up by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and trade agency Enterprise Singapore (ESG) to answer queries from businesses during and after the circuit breaker.

From April 3 to June 15, the call centre answered 110,000 phone calls and responded to 45,000 email enquiries, said ESG. 

During the circuit breaker, nearly 800 volunteers from government agencies such as the Ministry of Education and the Singapore Tourism Board manned the Enterprise Infoline. 

Answering a question from the media on whether the number of calls would fall in the coming weeks as more economic activities resume, Mr Chan said that this is unlikely to be the case.

“At every stage of the transition, there are different sets of issues,” he said. “For example, (from) Friday onwards, F&B can reopen (for dine-in), then more questions will come in from F&B (outlets), because they know they cannot reopen as per the pre-Covid days.”

Another group of businesses whose questions need to be answered are those in retail, most of which stayed closed during the circuit breaker and in Phase One. 

“Now the question (that retailers may ask), instead of whether they can open, is ‘how can I open safely?’” he said. “In the near term, we will see the need to help business transit to a safe work environment in a Covid world. This is when we help (companies) with evolving some of their business models.” 

Mr Chan added that when businesses roll out safe-distancing measures, they should not do so just to “meet the rules”, but think about how they can sustain their operations by keeping employers and customers safe. 

“We are very encouraged to see that more and more companies are adopting this particular posture, that they want to keep their employees and customers safe,” he said. “Only in that way can they continue to do business in a sustainable way. That is really the spirit of (the measures).”

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Covid-19 coronavirus safe distancing business Phase 2 Chan Chun Sing

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