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Singapore Retailers Hurt By New COVID Restrictions

Singapore on Friday (July 23) unveiled an $808 million aid package — 1.1 billion in that country’s currency — aimed at helping workers and businesses affected by the nation’s latest COVID-19 restrictions.

As CNBC reported, the new measures include a jobs support plan for sectors including dining, retail, entertainment and gyms, as well as help for retailers to get onto local online retail platforms.

These measures come as brick-and-mortar retailers in Singapore have seen sales plummet in the face of tightening COVID-19 restrictions.

Speaking on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Thursday (July 22), Rose Tong of the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) said sales have declined between 50 and 80 percent with every new round of pandemic restrictions.

Those restrictions were tightened again on Thursday as coronavirus cases began to climb, thanks to people congregating in karaoke bars and markets. These new restrictions will last until Aug. 18, CNBC reported, and include limiting public gatherings to two people and forbidding dine-in eating.

Singapore’s Ministry of Health logged 170 new COVID-19 cases, 162 of which were locally transmitted. The resulting restrictions have caused shopper traffic to decline sharply, even as businesses continue paying the full price for rent, Tong told CNBC.

“We are hoping that landlords are more proactive, and they would take a fair share of the burden,” she said, adding that some business owners are seeking support from their landlords to offer rental rebates.

It’s not just retailers that are feeling a pinch due to the pandemic. As PYMNTS reported earlier this week, garment workers in Bangladesh have lost nearly $12 billion in wages due to COVID-19’s economic disruptions, with garment companies telling the Bangladeshi government that they could lose around $119 million per day just from exports if their factories need to remain shut.

Workers have also made their feelings known, with employees at Stylecraft Ltd. taking to the streets to demand years of back pay, annual leave and bonuses.

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