If you were to walk along popular streets in Singapore today, you’d notice something strange; there’s barely anyone out there.
Was the human race wiped out while we were sleeping? Did we wake up in a post-apocalyptic video game? And if so, when can we expect the zombies to start eating us?
It’s crazy to think that the whole world is basically on pause because of a microscopic virus, but that’s exactly what’s happening.
In addition to claiming many lives, the Covid-19 pandemic is killing businesses all over the country.
More and more people are staying at home due to the rise in infections, new social distancing measures, and closure of entertainment venues.
And with the travel ban on tourists in place, business for many shops and restaurants is pretty much non-existent.
Popular Hangout Places in S’pore Have Businesses Dropped By Up to 90%
Take Haji Lane, for example.
Haji Lane used to be one of those places that seemed to always be crowded, whether it was filled with Singaporeans at bars or tourists marvelling at the wall art.
But now, these places are emptier than Man City’s stadium during a match.
According to The Straits Times, local shops were largely devoid of shoppers, with the exception of a few taking pictures of the iconic street.
While we’re complaining about not being able to club or watch a movie for the next month, many of these shop owners have had to deal with a 90% drop in business.
Imagine if your boss suddenly imposed a 90% salary cut; wouldn’t that be devastating?
Boss: Hey, that’s actually a good idea, thanks.
On some days, these shops don’t have any customers at all.
One shopkeeper said that the crowd on Saturday (28 March) was just 20% what it used to be.
Even Boat Quay, which is usually packed with people on Saturday nights, was described as a “ghost town” by patrons and staff there.
I’m hearing that word a lot more these days.
Only 60% of the establishments there were open, and only 10 per cent to 20 per cent of those places were full on Saturday night.
One co-founder, Michael Callahan, said that business was down 80% and footfall by 95%.
Even celebrity businessman Daniel Ong has come out to talk about it:
But isn’t the government helping these businesses out? Well, yes and no.
One shop owner, Mr Zachery Masot, 52, who owns eight stores on Haji Lane (God knows why he has so many stores there), said that while the Government has announced property tax waivers to aid businesses affected by the pandemic, tenants can’t necessarily claim those benefits.
So, Masot and his business partner have had to take money from their business reserves to pay rent and wages, and are even negotiating for a rental rebate from their landlords.
This package includes:
- Increase in property tax rebates
- Wavier of rental for 0.5 to 3 months for Government-managed properties
- More business loans
- More training funds
- Government paying 50% of wages for each Singaporean in F&B sector
But whether tenants like Masot will actually get the financial help they need remains to be seen.
As for the rest of us, we should be thankful that we still have our jobs, because this Covid-19 virus is ruthless.
Boss: I think 95% cut is better. At least you’d still have your job and I can still serve my BMW.
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