At this point in the global pandemic, most people probably have a rough idea of what is or isn’t considered an essential service. Still, there are differences depending on where you live and today, Singapore’s government released a tightened list of essential services for the country. For the most part, it all makes sense until you zoom in a little closer and note that Singapore has now shut down retailers that primarily deal in chocolate, desserts, ice cream, and the holiest of holy drinks, bubble tea. And it’s not just retailers—it’s also manufacturers as well.
I don’t know about you, but my efforts to get super jacked during social isolation are sometimes derailed by existential depression triggered by the horrible, neverending stream of shitty news. In those dire moments, I do as any adult does and reach for my stash of chocolate and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. I have a specific bag of chilli potato chips that I will shove in my face hole for when I hit peak covid-19-related depression.
Shutting down retailers, I could understand. New York City and plenty of other localities have done that. Though specialty shops like liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries have been deemed an essential service in many places. Only Singapore has no mercy for booze either. The country is shuttering liquor stores, as well as those that specialise in snacks like potato chips, popcorn, and cheese.
No problem—buy your junk food online. Except the country’s Ministry of Trade and Industry’s announcement also says that “online retail of food products can take place only if they can be fulfilled from the licensed central kitchen, manufacturing facility or warehouse of the F&B [food and beverage] establishment.” It then goes on to exclude manufacturers from making chocolate, chocolate products, chips, crackers, ice cream, cocoa, non-chocolate confectionaries like sweets and chewing gum, cakes, and confectionery.
Of course, strictly speaking, none of these snacks are healthy or necessary for survival. I’m sure there are also folks out there who never yearn for the comfort only snacks can provide. However, if you’ve ever been in the throes of a particularly crampy period or grappled with moderate to severe depression—that sweet sugar rush sometimes helps you from devolving into a complete monster. A little afternoon treat of tea and cookies might brighten an otherwise craptacular day. A cake can make quarantine birthdays seem a little more normal. Shoveling chips into your gob while binging movies can take the edge off cabin fever. What the hell Singapore?
Clearly, the answer must be that Singapore’s leaders are unicorns who have never had a period or been severely depressed. While Singapore’s president, Halimah Yacob, is a woman, she’s also mostly a figurehead. Its prime minister is the one the calling the shots and that’s Lee Hsien Loong—a non-period haver, and, based on a brief skimming of his Wikipedia bio, born into Singaporean political royalty via his father Lee Kuan Yew.
To him, I plead mercy for Singapore’s snackier citizens in these bleak times. Let your people order cake (and ice cream, and booze, and other snacks.)