IN THE FACE:
With about 3 million people infected worldwide and more than a quarter million more dead from this latest strain of corona virus, the Covid-19 pandemic has been drawn into comparisons with the magnitude of the 1918 Spanish Flu and even the aftermath of World War II. The comparison should not be taken too lightly with experts saying that the end is still far from over as possible vaccines could only be available not until the second halve of year 2021.
As with the aviation and F&B industries, the hoteliers are possibly one of the worst hit in this recent pandemic across the whole world. With almost no significant number of visitors allowed to step foot into every country across the globe, the hospitality businesses are finding it hard to stay afloat. In the United States of America, one of the worst hit in terms of job losses came in April 2020 when almost 7.7 million jobs in the hospitality industry were lost.
KEEPING IT RELEVANT
In relevance to the impact of the virus progression on a local context, the situation with Singapore hotels is comparatively better controlled. Prudent spending and business continuity plans were executed all across the hospitality establishments to better manage the situation during the ongoing pandemic. In some Singapore hotels, vacant floors were shut down from operations in totality, to save cost in manpower and also cut down on wastage of electricity. Plans to shorten resident restaurant's opening hours and also room-servicing hours were implemented for the same reasons. During this troubling times, with aid coming from the administration, many of Singapore hotels were also fortunate enough to still be able to hold on to the core of their staffers. Hotel staff were asked to go on annual leaves or even voluntary no-pay leaves, instead of terminating their employment outright. With additional grants and subsidies, many Singapore hotels also saw opportunities for their staff to go for upskilling external courses during the lull period to further upgrade themselves while awaiting a positive change in the overall situation of the viral containment.
THE GOVERNMENT OF SINGAPORE
Under a series of national budgets introduced, ordinary workers; small time business owners to bigger organisations are able to receive aids and assistance to tide through this difficult period of time. The following are in relation to the hotel and hospitality industry.
- Job Support Scheme where the Singapore Government pays on behalf of the Singapore hotels to all its local employees a certain percentage of his/her salary up till March 2021.
- Hotel Job Redesign programme where Singapore hotels staffers are sent for upskilling workshops and are covered for up to 70% (with a cap) of his/her monthly salary for a period of up to 3 months. An initiative by WorkForce Singapore together with many other various national agencies.
Just a couple of months back, in April 2020, a decision was called upon by the Singapore government for a partial lock down of the entire nation. It was done in an concerted effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 in both imported and local community cases. This nationwide plan was also known officially as the circuit breaker. It ended on 1st June 2020 , with plans laid out for a gradual reopening of businesses and services in a total of three phases. Under the resumption of activities in Phase 2, hotels are allowed to offer accommodation to paying guests for the purpose of only leisure, like for example, staycations. Singapore hotels who are interested to lease out their rooms and services for staycation purpose has to come up with an official application with the authorities. With which, in order to qualify, there are certain requirements set out that applying hotels need to meet. As arduous as this process may seem, with the hotels crawling themselves back with this new single lifeline in the form of staycations, the new normal that lies in the blipping future may never look the same again, as it was before.
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