This circuit breaker has been tough for us all.
Even though it was announced on yesterday (19 May) that Singapore would be re-opening in three phases, some businesses will have to wait for a little while more before business can resume as per usual.
Aesthetic doctor Siew Tuck Wah from Radium Medical Aesthetic, who’s also famous for being the founder of Save Our Street Dogs, has taken to Facebook to voice out his frustrations and concern for his clinic.
Aesthetic Clinics Not Allowed To Resume Operations
Siew was informed by the Ministry of Health on the morning of May 19 that aesthetic clinics cannot resume operations after the circuit breaker ends.
According to Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, businesses that operate in settings with lower transmission risks may resume activities.
While retail shops and dining-in are still not allowed, limited consumer services like hairdressers and barbers, air-con servicing and basic pet services were given the green light.
Lower Risk Of Transmission?
Siew pointed out that in the first phase of the re-opening, healthcare services such as specialist outpatient services will be allowed to resume even though the risk of transmission is equal to or greater than in an aesthetic clinic.
Even though there is close contact between persons for a considerable period for both aesthetic clinics and non-medical services, he argues that there is a lower risk for him.
With six years of education and several years in training as a doctor, he feels that doctors of all people know what measures are necessary to maintain the highest standard of hygiene.
To be fair… he does has a point.
He also listed a few ways a doctor would curb the spread of a communicable disease like COVID-19 in their clinics including spacing out appointments between patients and the sterilisation of surfaces before and after each patient.
Significant Losses Due To Closure
On the same Facebook post, Siew said that two months with no income was already a struggle but the third month was “going to be much worse”.
While his clinic has got help from the mall in the form of rental rebates and wage support schemes from the government, a third month of not operating will mean that they have to continue with zero revenue.
He stated that the running costs such as rental, manpower, loans add up to a whopping cost of $160,000 – $180,000 a month.
WOW. That’s way more than what an average Singaporean earns per year.
And to add icing on the cake, consumables for an aesthetic clinic like his clinic do not have a very long shelf life and the value of items that have expired or are close to expiry amount to more than $10,000.
Doubts About The Situation
“There is no logical reason why businesses such as hair salons can open, while aesthetic clinics cannot,” wrote Siew.
Left with no choice, he is now being forced to consider if he should let his staff go on no-pay leave or downsize. He wonders if this is a deliberate attempt to single out the medical aesthetic industry or a “desperate attempt to conserve manpower on the front line” as many aesthetic doctors are volunteering at the frontline during the circuit breaker.
“Even though we deal with cosmetic problems, we still upload the ethics of being a doctor,” said Siew.
More Than Just A Pimple
Besides the financial implication on the clinic, some patients might be badly affected by the closure of aesthetic clinics as some conditions such as rosacea and acne need to be treated as they can flare-up.
“Acne, in particular, can cause permanent disfiguring of the skin if left untreated,” wrote Siew.
There are also other patients with sensitive skin who need regular reviews and treatments.
Siew ended the lengthy Facebook post saying that even though he’s a doctor, he is not spared from the mundane needs to make end meets.
“We will not be able to survive for much longer,” he said.
And just so you know, a survey also shows that 42% of restaurants in Singapore cannot tahan a third month of Circuit Breaker.
Reader Pao: Wait, I thought we’re exiting Circuit Breaker come 2 June?
You must be new, Mr Pao.
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