SINGAPORE, Aug 11 — Businesses such as gyms, spas and cinemas that had to suspend operations or function at a reduced capacity in recent weeks have started to bring back customers — primarily those who have been fully vaccinated.
Under differentiated Covid-19 measures that kicked in yesterday (August 10), those who have completed the two-dose vaccination regime are able to participate in indoor strenuous exercise, watch movies in larger numbers and go for facial appointments, among other activities.
Unvaccinated individuals are only allowed to do these if they have recovered from Covid-19, or got a negative result in a pre-event test taken in the prior 24 hours.
The measures that kicked in starting Tuesday are:
- For gyms and yoga studios: Indoor mask-off activities at gyms and fitness studios can resume in groups of up to five people with a maximum class size of 30, if all individuals are fully vaccinated. Indoor mask-on and all outdoor activities and classes capped at 50 people, regardless of vaccination or test status.
- For cinemas: Screenings can cater to up to 500 people if all are fully vaccinated; up to 50 people if unvaccinated. Food-and-beverages (F&B) can be served at screenings to groups of up to five fully vaccinated people. From August 19, the audience capacity for fully vaccinated people will increase to 1,000.
- For services which require masks to be removed such as spas and facials: Services can resume if the customer is fully vaccinated.
- For hotels: Group of up to five people will be allowed per room.
Gym relieved to finally reopen
Shawn Karthik, operations manager of Extreme Fitness, had to spend the long National Day weekend reaching out to every single gym member to check on their vaccination status.
He described the process as “cumbersome” — members will have to send him an online copy of their vaccination certificates, and when they arrive at the gym, they will have their identity cards checked against the IC number on the certificate before they will be allowed to enter.
But he does not mind the work as the gym’s two branches — one near Clementi, the other at Boon Lay — had not been able to open since July 22.
Instead, the gym had pivoted to holding outdoor and online classes for some members. As a result, 70 per cent of its revenue was lost over the past month.
But he said members had been in touch and are “really looking forward to returning”.
Of his more than 500 members, about 60 per cent are fully vaccinated. Among those who are not, most are waiting for their second dose or for the two-week period after their second dose to elapse.
Only two members have said they will not be getting vaccinated for personal or medical reasons.
Kelvin Quah, owner of Iron Fitness, is waiting until tomorrow before reopening his gym at Lorong 11 Geylang so he can settle administrative issues such as making sure he knows the vaccination status of every member.
He painstakingly contacted his 70 customers over group chats. His members are mostly in their 20s and 30s, so only about 40 per cent have completed the two-dose regime as younger people got the jab later in the national vaccination programme.
“Because some of them were vaccinated later, we have to wait until their TraceTogether app states that they are fully vaccinated.”
Having already lost about 80 per cent of his revenue over the past month due to the tightened measures, Quah is adamant he will abide strictly by the rules to avoid further losses.
“If customers book first and then come down not vaccinated, we will just tell them to go home,” he said.
Yoga studios taking varying approaches
Yoga studios that TODAY spoke to have been able to continue their sessions over the Phase Two (heightened alert) period as the activity could be done with masks on.
However, Corinna Tjia, director of Lotus Yoga at Pasir Panjang, said she had still lost about 50 per cent of her revenue in the last month.
“Some customers were not comfortable wearing masks, while some were not signing up as they are uncertain about the regulations,” she said.
With the new mask-off option kicking in yesterday, Tjia will be allowing the 75 per cent of her members who have been fully vaccinated to remove their masks if they want to.
Yoga classes will be conducted with vaccinated individuals on one side of the room and unvaccinated participants on the other side, with a safe distance between the two groups.
The two groups will use different yoga mats, and will also enter and exit from different doors.
Another yoga studio, Jyan Yoga on Princep Street, is choosing not to separate vaccinated and unvaccinated members for now. Instead, classes will go on as per recent weeks, with all members with masks on.
“For now, quite a number of students are waiting for their second jab, so in order to not ostracise them, we are still making mask-wearing compulsory,” she said.
This will continue to the end of the month, where the studio will then assess if the proportion of vaccinated members is high enough to allow masks to be taken off.
Some cinemas to implement vaccinated-only screenings
Some cinemas have plans to implement differentiated measures, such as screenings for fully vaccinated moviegoers.
Cathay Cineplexes, which has eight outlets across the island, said that it will be rolling out vaccinated-only halls from tomorrow onwards.
“We will be able to increase the seating capacities for vaccinated-only halls, with 1m safe-distancing in place,” Cathay Cineplexes said.
“The increase in capacity will depend on each individual hall size, but it will not exceed 500 people.”
The cinema will also verify the vaccination status of customers “at a few points throughout their purchase journey”.
For instance, if customers buy their tickets online or at kiosks, there will be a pop-up to remind them that the ticket they are booking is for a vaccinated-only hall.
“The last check will be done at our usher point before entry to the halls either by verifying their vaccination status with their TraceTogether token, mobile app or HealthHub mobile app,” it said.
F&B sold at the cinemas can also be consumed at vaccinated-only halls.
“Our staff will do a last check at the usher point to ensure that no F&B is brought in to other halls other than the vaccinated-only halls They will also be doing spot checks throughout the movie.”
Starting tomorrow, independent cinema The Projector, which is located on Beach Road, will also be holding screenings for vaccinated individuals at two of its four halls.
The vaccinated-only hall will see a capacity increase from 50 to 100 people, with 1m safe distancing in place between groups meaning the hall is operating at 50 per cent capacity.
Audience caps at the two halls where vaccinations are not compulsory will remain at 50.
Prashant Somosundram, general manager at The Projector, said: “We hope that as vaccination rates rise, in time to come, the 1m social distancing measures will be lifted to allow us to operate at 100 per cent capacity.”
F&B sold at the venue can only be consumed in vaccinated-only halls.
“Guests will be refused entry without refunds should they show up for (vaccinated-only) hall screenings but not meet the admission criteria,” Prashant said.
TODAY has also reached out to cinemas Golden Village and Shaw Theatres.
Facial spas and other mask-off services
For beauty salons and spas, they can now do mask-off services such as facials only on fully vaccinated customers. In the weeks before, such services had ceased.
Companies such as Joyre Skincare — with outlets at Nex mall in Serangoon and Jurong Point Shopping Centre — had seen a 100 per cent loss in revenue over the Phase Two (heightened alert) period, when its services were halted.
Dickson Mah, chief executive officer of Joyre group, said that staff members have been briefed to do their “due diligence” when bookings are made over the phone.
“Even over the phone, we will ask customers to send the screenshot of the vaccination certificates,” he said.
Like the other businesses TODAY spoke to, a second check of the TraceTogether app will be done when customers arrive at the premises.
“I’m hoping that the business will recover with the government implementation of full vaccination for customers allowed to enter,” he said. “This will give consumers confidence and make a healthy and safe environment.” ― TODAY