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Will Omicron Derail Business Recovery?

Omicron, the latest COVID-19 variant has started to spread around the world.  Singapore detected its first Omicron case on December 2nd 2021 and the infected person is currently being isolated under the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) guidance.  The first Omicron case has sparked some fear and uncertainties amongst the business community in Singapore. 

How dangerous is the Omicron variant?

The Omicron variant was first identified in South Africa.  Researchers around the world are scrambling to learn and understand the dangers of this new variant.  As of today 8th December 2021, studies seem to suggest that Omicron is much more contagious than previous variants while causing milder symptoms.  Definitive data will not be available for weeks.

How is Singapore dealing with the new variant?

The world has learnt from its mistakes and most countries have this time started reacting to the Omicron threat much faster while awaiting more data.  The Singapore Government started to close its borders to visitors from high-risk countries (Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe).  Entry requirements into Singapore have also been tightened, with all air travellers required to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on arrival.

For Singaporeans, good news, the recent relaxation of restrictions still holds for example groups of five are allowed to dine.  However, we will likely not see further relaxations anytime soon.

What should business owners do now?

As Singapore tries to get a grip with the new variant, many business owners are feeling anxious of what lies ahead. 

Delay big decisions

Whilst we are still learning more about the Omicron variant, it may be best to delay any big business decisions, especially for businesses in industries highly sensitive to the effects of COVID.  For decisions that cannot be delayed, it may be worth considering the possibility of a stronger economy rather than mull on potential negative COVID effects.

Ensure your business has sufficient cashflow

It would be prudent to update your cash flow forecast to see if your business has adequate cash flow to cover a runway for at least the next six months.  Check out our previous article on how to optimise your business cash flow and improve working capital.

 

Workplace safety measures

Reiterate the steps to increase workplace safety to your organisation.  Working from home should remain an option for all employees if jobs can be carried out remotely.  Employers who are transitioning remote employees back to the workplace should consider doing so gradually or on a staggered basis to increase safety as staff adopt new ways of working.  In addition, it might be worth considering an improvement to ventilation within the workplace to decrease the likelihood of transmission.

Lastly, encourage your employees to get vaccination including getting their booster shot to reduce the likelihood of infection in the workplace (and at home for that matter).  Regular testing can also be carried out on your workforce to detect infections early. 

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