SPECIAL EDITION ON COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a deep impact across the globe, affecting all sectors of society. It has fundamentally changed the way we work, the way we live and the way we function.
As governments work to overcome the pandemic and its consequences, policies and measures have been implemented at a swift rate. In this quarterly issue of our Regional Round-Up, we present a special COVID-19 Edition to provide our clients with an overview of the control and support measures put in place in the South-East Asia region and in China. This issue also consolidates Rajah & Tann Asia's key Client Updates to date on the legal and regulatory developments in response to the pandemic in the respective jurisdictions.
The COVID-19 situation continues to change and develop on a daily basis, and Rajah & Tann Asia seeks to keep our clients informed on the latest updates. Visit our COVID-19 Resource Centre for the latest publications from our lawyers across the region on common issues and legal implications brought about by COVID-19. For specific inquiries, please reach out to your relationship partner or send an email to our COVID-19 Legal Team.
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Control and Support Measures in Singapore Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore has introduced a number of control and safe distancing measures progressively to manage the spread of COVID-19, and to provide relief to individuals and businesses affected by the outbreak. Under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 ("Act"), the Minister for Health has issued the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020 ("Regulations"), which seeks to minimise the movement of and interaction between individuals with effect from 7 April 2020. As part of Singapore's circuit breaker efforts to pre-empt the increasing trend of local transmission, the Regulations have been progressively updated with enhanced measures. Except for essential service providers and their related supply chains and service providers, businesses are not allowed to operate from their workplace premises. However, if they are able to continue to operate their businesses (in limited or full capacity) with their employees working from home, they should continue to do so. All other business, social or other activities that are not essential services and cannot be conducted through working from home shall be suspended. Essential service providers and their related supply chains and service providers must put in place safe distancing measures to reduce physical interactions among their employees and must permit and provide the necessary facilities for their workers to work from their places of residence, and direct them to do so, unless it is not reasonably practicable to do so. Individuals are required to stay in their place of residence and are only allowed to leave for certain purposes. Schools and institutes of higher learning are on full home-based learning. Safe distancing measures have also been implemented and enforced in public places and non-residential premises. The movement control and elevated safe distancing measures which were originally stated to be in force until 4 May 2020 will be extended to 1 June 2020 pursuant to an announcement by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on 21 April 2020. Non-compliance with the circuit breaker measures is an offence punishable with fine, imprisonment or to both.
The Singapore Parliament has also introduced legislative provisions in the Act that will afford temporary relief from actions for parties unable to perform their contracts, repay loans or pay rent due to COVID-19 events, and will increase the monetary thresholds and time limits for insolvency and bankruptcy. In addition, the Government has introduced various initiatives to provide financial support for businesses and individuals during this time, including the Unity Budget, the Solidarity Budget, the Resilience Budget together with further support measures for businesses to cover the prolonged circuit breaker. These initiatives include measures such as tax rebates, credit financing, business grants, wage and training support, cash payouts, and the establishment of funds such as the Temporary Relief Fund, the COVID-19 Support Grant and the Courage Fund for individuals and families.
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Please note that whilst the information in this Update is correct to the best of our knowledge and belief at the time of writing, it is only
intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and should not be treated as a substitute for specific professional advice.