Singapore has seen a recent uptick of cases from the KTV and Jurong Fishery Port clusters.
Speaking in Parliament on Monday (26 Jul), Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam addressed concerns surrounding nightlife establishments, saying that the pandemic has threatened their livelihoods.
While KTV operations have been forbidden since Mar 2020, authorities allowed some to pivot to F&B places under specific conditions.
Hence, Shanmugam said it is unfair to assume all such businesses breached safe management measures (SMM). However, authorities will continue to step up enforcement operations.
On Monday (26 Jul), Minister Shanmugam addressed several issues regarding the enforcement actions against KTVs.
He shared that KTVs were forced to shut since March last year. To survive, some were allowed to pivot to F&B.
Unfortunately, Minister Shanmugam said it had been suggested that the government should have known that “KTV operators would cheat, allow themselves to become semi-brothels even though they were only allowed to provide F&B (services).”
Some also went as far as to suggest that the government was “in cahoots” with KTVs or that they were “naive” not to realise what happens in KTVs.
He debunked this, explaining that it would be wrong to assume these 400 businesses that pivoted were “crooks”.
Although some businesses had “dodgy reputations”, others were genuine operators – e.g. KTVs that cater to families – trying to survive.
As for the “dodgy” ones, the law does not allow authorities to assume they will break the law and deny them from pivoting.
Minister Shanmugam said the government understands there would still be places that “offer sex and meetup opportunities”.
Hence, since Oct 2020, authorities have conducted 202 operations against pivoted KTV outlets and illegal establishments. They also ensured there was at least 1 police operation daily.
This has led to authorities detecting 58 infringements under the Public Entertainments Act and Liquor Control Act.
They also found 595 breaches of SMMs and made 142 arrests under various laws, including the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act and Immigration Act.
As a result, 100 outlets, including 40 pivoted establishments, have been ordered to close.
Minister Shanmugam assured that offenders have been dealt with severely and that such operations would continue.
As Singapore continues to manage the Covid-19 situation, many businesses continue to struggle.
The government has allowed many of these businesses to change and adapt their operations.
But as they permit them to do so, the onus is on businesses to abide by the laws and ensure the safety of their customers and the Singapore community at large.
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