Informal F&B Group Says 80% Of Them May Close in a Month Unless Rental & Manpower Costs Are Resolved

Just a few days ago, news broke regarding the closure of retail stores and a newly launched no dine-in rule to fight the coronavirus outbreak beginning 7 April.

Most Singaporeans worried about whether panic buyers would wipe out all the toilet paper at NTUC.

But a good bunch of business owners, specifically restaurants had arguably bigger worries on their minds.

Informal F&B Group Says 80% Of Them May Close in a Month Unless Rental & Manpower Costs Are Resolved

The government had announced that the public would not be allowed to dine-in at restaurants for at least one month and possibly even longer if the coronavirus situation does not improve.

This was announced with the hope that it would prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

While dine-in would not be allowed, food establishments can still offer takeaway or delivery orders. Even then, not all restaurants are able to make the switch and if they do not, they will be forced to close.

Obviously, this is not a conducive environment for restaurants to thrive in.

In fact, according to Business Times, multiple restaurants had already decided to close temporarily or permanently after revenues had dropped as much as 90% since the coronavirus outbreak began.

Image: Giphy

Examples of restaurants that have been forced to close include Salt Grill at ION Orchard and its sister restaurant Botanic.

On the other hand, Michelin-starred Iggy’s announced that it would shut on 6 April and re-open in 30 days time.

Not All Restaurants Can Do Delivery/Takeaway Only

The problem is that it may not be viable for some restaurants to switch to delivery and takeaway only, and Michelin-starred Labyrinth and three-starred Les Amis are among them.

Although they have had “decent sales” of their S$150 takeaway roast chicken, keeping the restaurant open just for that is not justified.

Director of culinary operations Sebastien Lepinoy said, “it is better to close,” he said, adding that the restaurant would stay in service until April 6, after which its staff would clear leave and take no-pay-leave until it re-opens.

Labyrinth’s chef-owner Han Li Guang has also decided to put his planned delivery service on hold and close his restaurant which is located at Esplanade Mall. This comes after the restaurant has been badly affected by the fall in tourists.

He said, “It’s better for my bottom line. My staff will take no-pay-leave, but they will still get some salary from the government subsidy and I am splitting their May salary over two months.”

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The situation is so bad that two individuals have started #savefnbsg. In a short span of just three days, 500 restaurants have joined to plead for more government aid to save the food and beverage industry.

Major players like Lo&Behold, Tung Lok, Crystal Jade, Paradise, Prive groups and many smaller businesses have joined.

All have been severely impacted by the drop in footfall and social distancing measures.

The group estimates that without help with rental and manpower costs, a whopping 80% of restaurants might be forced to shut their doors within the next month.

There have been existing measures to ease the impact on restaurants, but they reportedly don’t suffice.

“While the government bodies are trying to help, we still need to be heard, (We want to highlight) the on-ground issues, so that the right measures can be implemented to save the industry.”

Let’s hope that more can be done to save these businesses



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