habitat by honestbee shuts ops temporarily as retail outlets see drop in traffic

Habitat by honestbee will be temporarily suspending its operations from 10 February 2020 to 23 February 2020, due to the increase in novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Singapore. In addition, a honestbee spokesperson said that the company may extend the suspension if necessary and will monitor the situation closely. According to honestbee, these steps were taken in light of the elevated DORSCON (Disease Outbreak Response System Condition) risk assessment status, as well as a significant reduction in walk-in traffic at habitat by honestbee.

“The company is taking a proactive approach to combat community transmission and will be monitoring the situation closely. In the meantime, honestbee’s online groceries will still remain operational and all related staff have been reminded to maintain good personal hygiene at all times, and will be provided with hand sanitisers and face masks,” the statement read.

The company has not had the smoothest of times. It came under financial difficulty in 2019, which led to delays in staff salaries and chairman Brian Koo resigning in September 2019. Media outlets also reported that honestbee owed about SG$1 million in salary to over 200 former employees. This was later confirmed by a honestbee spokesperson then to Marketing. The spokesperson had said that the delays were communicated to staff as the management team looks to remain transparent by communicating to staff on payment issues.

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Meanwhile, retail company OG also recently cut short its operating hours, to allow staff members to head home earlier to a longer period of rest during the critical COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. In a statement to Marketing, an OG spokesperson also confirmed that OG started to see a decline in footfall and business when the DORSCON level changed from Green to Yellow in early February. Currently, the DORSCON level is now at Orange.

OG currently has three stores located at Albert Road, Orchard Point and People’s Park. According to the spokesperson, all three stores have become “very quiet” after 7pm, and in particular, OG People's Park outlet experienced the highest drop in traffic among the three outlets. The OG spokesperson added that since Ministry of Health (MOH) set up the health advisory in late January in response to the virus outbreak, the retail company has provided surgical face masks to its  staff and installed hand sanitiser dispensers around the stores and staff rest areas for all to use.

“Since 29 January, we have stepped up sanitation with the disinfection of floors, toilets and frequently touched surfaces such as railings, handles, countertops, lift buttons and escalator handles. We have also shared with our staff MOH's advisory on precautions to take (wash hands frequently with soap, cover our mouth with a tissue when coughing and sneezing etc.) and how to wear a mask,” the spokesperson said.

Similarly, in Singapore, CapitaLand has implemented precautionary measures in accordance with guidelines from the authorities and has placed hand sanitisers for tenants, shoppers and guests in the properties. This comes as Capitaland closed all four of its malls in Wuhan and both of its malls in Xi'an, in view of the developing coronavirus situation. These six CapitaLand malls in Wuhan and Xi’an will reopen depending on the condition and directives from local government.

This comes following the Singapore government and Singapore Tourism Board (STB) jointly forming a public-private sector Tourism Recovery Action Task Force to lay out the plans for recovery and future growth, amidst the expected hit on tourism arrivals and receipts due to the coronavirus situation. According to a media statement, the Tourism Recovery Action Task Force, or TRAC, will map out recovery strategies and plans for tourism in Singapore. Based on the current situation, the STB expects visitor arrivals this year to fall by about 25 to 30%.