6 April 2020 update: The Singapore Government announced the Solidarity Budget, an additional budget to save jobs and protect livelihoods in response to the circuit breaker measures.
7 April 2020 update: The Singapore Government passed a new Bill, called the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Bill 2020, to define the details of the circuit breaker restrictions, details of the Bill for leaving the house have been included in this article.
9 April 2020 update: Sports stadiums are now closed.
11 April 2020 update: You are now required to wear masks on public transport, and within wet markets, hawker centres, malls and supermarkets. Beaches and selected parks and park connectors are now closed. The penalty for first-time offenders (i.e. individuals who breach circuit breaker measures) has been increased to a $300 fine (it was previously a written warning).
12 April 2020 update: Singapore Land Authority (SLA) closes all playfields.
14 April 2020 update: You must wear a mask when you step out of your home, exceptions for children below the age of two and those doing strenuous exercise. Those caught not doing so may be fined $300 in the first instance.
22 April 2020 update: The government has extended and intensified circuit breaker measures, which will now last until 1 June 2020 (instead of 4 May 2020). The original article is below:
On 3 April 2020, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the Multi-ministerial Task Force announced stepped-up measures to further control the escalating community spread of Covid-19 in Singapore. This “circuit breaker” involves some big changes to existing measures, including changes affecting the property market; we’re detailing them here as we find out more. [This article will be constantly updated, so do bookmark or save this page.]
First things first, is the ‘circuit breaker’ essentially a lockdown?
Um, we think it’s a
80% 90% lockdown (as of 11 April 2020).
It’s still Dorscon Orange?
It is, because the government tells us so.
Okay… so what new measures does the 3 April 2020 circuit breaker have?
Here they are:
- More support measures to be announced on 6th April (Monday)
- Landlords will be required by law to pass property tax rebates to tenants
- All non-essential shops and workplaces to be shut from 7th April (Tuesday) for one month
- Tighter restrictions on gatherings and movement [updated on the 7th April with the passing of a new Bill]
- Full home-based learning in place from 8th April (Wednesday)
- No more discouraging people from wearing masks
Circuit breaker #1: More support measures to be announced on 6th April (Monday)
The new ‘circuit breaker’ measures will mean a complete shutdown for many non-essential businesses; and this will incur serious costs to business owners and employees. As such, further measures – on top of those already announced in Budget 2020 and the Resilience Budget, was announced.
Circuit breaker #2: Landlords will be required by law to pass property tax rebates to tenants
Landlords of some commercial properties, such as hotels and serviced apartments, have received 100% tax rebates; while landlords of some other properties, including office, retail, and F&B, have rebates of between 15 to 30 per cent. However, not all landlords have passed this on to tenants.
As part of the ‘circuit breaker’, we’ll see actual legislation on the issue on 6th April. Under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) bill, landlords will face fines of up to $5,000 for not passing on rebates.
In addition, there will be temporary legislation allowing individuals and entities to defer some contractual obligations, such as paying rent or completing work. In terms of the property market, we expect this to affect developers who face construction delays, and can’t meet ABSD deadlines or completion date promises to buyers.
We’ll update you with more when the full details are out.
Circuit breaker #3: All non-essential shops and workplaces to be shut from 7th April (Tuesday) for one month
The following shops/workplaces are deemed essential and will remain open:
- Food and beverage establishments (take-out and delivery only, no dining in allowed)
- Markets and supermarkets
- Key banking services
- Entities that are part of the global supply chain (e.g. manufacturing)
Some other businesses that are deemed economically vital will also remain open. The list of essential businesses is summed up in the infographic by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) below:
The government will also make it illegal for employers to deny telecommuting (i.e. work-from-home) if the nature of their work allows for it.
In other words, if business activities not classified essential cannot be conducted through telecommuting, they will be suspended from 7 April to 4 May 2020 inclusive.
Employees of essential services who have to go to work will have to practice strict safe-distancing and avoid social interactions between co-workers. Employers of essential services have to ensure that they continue operations with the minimum number of staff and suspend operations if a staff member becomes infected with Covid-19.
[Recommended article: Can I move house during the Covid-19 circuit breaker period?]
Impact on the property market
A key impact of this circuit breaker on the property market is that foreign workers on construction sites will be off-work (as the goverment is requiring all of them to stay within their dormitories until further notice). This will result in construction delays for ongoing real estate projects under construction.
Note that this also means showflats will be closed for the duration of the circuit breaker measures. That’s definitely going to throw a damp towel over the Singapore real estate industry, which has over 30 new launch condo projects scheduled to be launched this year. We’ll keep you updated as we find out more from developers and agents.
Circuit breaker #4: Tighter restrictions on gatherings and movement with a new Bill
On 7 April the government passed a new Bill, called the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Bill 2020, to define the details of the circuit breaker restrictions surrounding the movement of Singaporeans. Most significantly, the new Bill restricts gatherings between people not living together, be it at home (in private) or outdoors.
Here’s a list of reasons you can leave your house (“place of residence”) under Singapore’s new Bill, in layman terms:
- To work at an essential service provider, a specified school or an early childhood development centre
- To obtain any goods or services from an essential service provider or a specified school
- To obtain medical treatment that is pressing in nature (i.e. might get worse quickly if not treated, or for Covid-19 symptoms)
- For recreational activity on a public path or in a public park alone or with one other person you are living together with (beaches and certain areas of parks shut down as of 11 April 2020)
- To bring child to a place of care* before/after going to work at an essential service provider
- To assist someone with a mental or physical disability, or someone below 12 or over 60 years of age, with his/her daily needs
- To seek and render help in an emergency
- To report for army duties/enlistment
- To report to police or attend court
- To report to any place as required by law
- To move to another place of accomodation
- To leave Singapore
- To do anything reasonably connected with for the purposes of the matters listed above
*Dropping child off with elderly parents not allowed with effect 9 April 2020.
In short, social gatherings outside our immediate household, even with extended family, are deemed illegal during the circuit breaker period. In some cases, you can let people into your house, such as:
- To provide and supply an essential service (e.g. TV repair)
- To provide care for a child (e.g. a nanny) whose parents are essential service workers
- To receive assistance with daily needs that would otherwise be unmet
- To receive help in an emergency
The restriction on gathering and movement have resulted in the closure of common facilities for both HDB flats and condominiums, such as pools and function rooms. Speaking of pools, Singapore Pools and 4D outlets are also closed for the duration of the circuit breaker measures.
Circuit breaker #5: Full home-based learning in place from 8th April (Wednesday)
Students, including those in Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) will start full home-based learning from 8 April (Wednesday) until 4 May (Monday). With school premises closed, the Ministry of Education is handling the home-based learning programme and methods, so parents, drop your school a call if you need details. Mid-year exams are cancelled (with the exception of varsity exams).
For younger children, preschool and student care centres will be closed. There will only be limited services, such as for parents working in professions deemed essential and can’t make alternative arrangements.
Circuit breaker #6: No more discouraging people from wearing masks
As the World Health Organisation (WHO) has changed it stance on masks, our government is doing so as well. In the government’s words, you are “no longer discouraged from wearing a mask in public”, even if you’re not sick. The government will be distributing reusable masks from Sunday (5 April) onwards. More details will be put up on https://maskgowhere.sg/
This move is on an unprecedented scale, and will be a learning experience
We’ve never gone through something like this before, and Covid-19 is making SARS look like a children’s birthday party by comparison. Hang tight everyone, as we may see a lot of unpredictable changes and consequences ahead. Stay safe and stay home.
What do you think of the government’s circuit breakers? Voice your thoughts in our comments section or on our Facebook community page.
If you liked this article, check out Private home prices in Singapore fall in Q1 2020: What’s next? and These SG condos are shutting down their facilities due to Covid-19
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