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Allow smaller shops selling everyday items to resume business

It is heartening to see that the Government is gradually loosening circuit breaker measures as the number of Covid-19 cases in the community has come down.

Allowing smaller stores selling everyday items to resume operations will reduce the time consumers spend away from their homes, says the writer.

Allowing smaller stores selling everyday items to resume operations will reduce the time consumers spend away from their homes, says the writer.

It is heartening to see that the Government is gradually loosening circuit breaker measures as the number of Covid-19 cases in the community has come down.

I would further urge the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and trade agency Enterprise Singapore (ESG) to allow retail shops run by small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that sell essential goods to resume business. 

Right now, these shops — including those selling personal care items and other sundries, such as Valu$ and Venus Beauty — are closed owing to the circuit breaker rules.

These shops do, however, sell products that are necessary for everyday life, including food as well as other sundries, such as first-aid items, cleaning agents and hygiene products. 

There are two key advantages in allowing these shops to operate, while ensuring consumers keep a safe distance from one another.

First, they are mostly in Housing and Development Board neighbourhoods, reducing the time consumers need to spend outside their homes. This also disperses the crowds away from shops in town centres. 

Second, these shops often offer essential goods at more competitive prices than those at major chains.

This will help maximise consumers’ purchasing power during these economically challenging times. For instance, I pay up to 40 per cent less for my shaver blades at these shops than at major chains.

Furthermore, this is in line with ESG’s mandate to promote SMEs, especially when they are facing unprecedented circumstances. SMEs that run these shops will be able to stay viable and continue employing workers, as well as add value to other sectors in the value chain. 

I understand that these shops can apply individually to MTI for an exemption.

But a blanket exemption for these shops will reduce red tape, saving time and effort not only for businesses but for public servants who are already working extra hard in the fight against the coronavirus. 

Have views on this issue or a news topic you care about? Send your letter to voices [at] mediacorp.com.sg with your full name, address and phone number. 

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