Singapore’s Measures to Curb the Spread of COVID-19 [March – April’2020]
On March 31, 2020, Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) was suspended at most gantries from April 6, 2020, with the remaining gantries seeing a slash in prices. Gantries in the city, several expressways and arterial roads would see no charge.
At time of writing, this was in response to the COVID-19 pandemic where Singaporeans were strongly advised to stay indoors and to minimise inter-mingling to slow down the spread of the virus. By doing so, private commuters would not be penalized for travelling during varying hours of the day as employers put in place staggered working hours.
A few days later as the situation worsened, on 5 April 2020, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced an elevated set of safe distancing measures by implementing a Circuit Breaker, affectionately named (CB), as precautionary measures in light of increasing local transmission and number of infection clusters of COVID-19. This measure would be effective from 7 April to 4 May 2020 (dates inclusive).
As for ERP, charges at all gantries would now be suspended from 6 April to 4 May 2020 (dates inclusive).
What Does CB Mean for the Car Industry?
As the function of ERP is to regulate traffic and to reduce congestion at highly used roads, especially in the central business district, it would not be in effect as there would be a significant reduction of cars once the CB has taken its effect.
Furthermore, with the CB in place, all non-essential businesses unable to conduct work through telecommuting would subsequently be suspended during this period. Hence, motor vehicle dealerships and car showrooms would inevitably be closed. As such, COE bidding exercises in the month of April will also be suspended. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) would continue to monitor the situation closely and would provide updates on subsequent bidding exercises. This also means that dealers may use their existing stock of Temporary COE (TCOEs) to register for new vehicles.
Thankfully, public transport systems and transport services and like private hire cars are still allowed to continue to operate for essential commuting needs.
What Does This Mean for Car Owners in Singapore?
For car owners with an expiring COE, you would be required to decide whether you prefer extending the COE or to deregister your vehicle. However, you are still required to comply with the regulations and are not allowed to drive your car with an expired COE under any circumstance. Failure to comply and if caught, persons may be fined up to $1000 or up to 3 months of prison or both. In addition, a mandatory disqualification of driving licence for at least 12 months would be issued. However, in light of the situation, you may contact LTA to request for an extension.
What Does this Mean for Car Rental Industry in Singapore?
For aspiring car owners, the suspension of COE would then mean that you would have to give up the opportunity to own a car at this point in time. Singapore is now at a stand-still as we pull our resources together to fight a common enemy – COVID-19, and as we hope for this situation to pass, painful sacrifices like delaying your purchase of a new car have to inevitably have to be made.
For now, most short-term and long-term car rental services would also be put to a standstill. However, fret not as car rental companies like Bizlink Rent-A-Car would still be in operation through telecommunication, assisting your every query in finding the best car rental packages that are suitable for your needs anytime or once this CB period subsides.
To protect all hirers, Bizlink Rent-A-Car has been vamping up their cleaning services since the start of this COVID-19 pandemic so as to ensure touch points like seats, steering-wheels, door handles and knobs are sanitized to mitigate the risks of spreading the virus through our rental cars. We have also exercised caution and observed social distancing measures since these regulations were advised by authorities to ensure the safety of both our customers and our staff.
As individuals, we hope to play our part in curbing this virus through the simple action of staying home. As the state has emphasized, all non-essential travels and commuting should still be deferred or avoided as much as possible during this time to ensure that this CB is effective in the long run.
The message is to “stay home, stay with your immediate family members living in the same household and to avoid social gatherings. But within your compounds, it is crucial to create some schedules and normalcy in your daily lives to maintain both your psychological and physical health.
Awaiting the End of the Circuit Breaker
It is easy to feel down-and-out considering the impact on this pandemic on our economy, social and psychological well-being. Looking at the silver lining of the matter, this CB will end; this pandemic will end. However, when it does, let’s not forget those that need our help, now more than ever. Let’s offer a helping end to those who are in shelters or are economically disadvantaged and reach out to these vulnerable communities. Foreign worker dormitories in need of food, clothes and other daily necessities being one of them. Let’s now extend our helping hand to those in need, and to fully relish in the spirit of a united nation.
This is a time to be reflective, to re-establish kinship bonds and to spend time doing the things that you have been passively holding off. Stay home, stay safe and stay connected with friends and family through technology. We also like to take this opportunity to thank all front-line workers, be it in the healthcare, education and mental health industries for their sacrifice and tireless work throughout these long and arduous months.
May we come out of this CB period, stronger than ever!