In light of increased community cases, the multi-ministry task force on COVID-19 proposed new steps on Friday (May 14).
They will go into effect starting Sunday (May 16), for a month, or until June 13. After two weeks, the interventions will be reviewed to see whether they need to be changed further.
No More Dine-Ins, Work From Home to be Default, as Gov’t Releases New Set of COVID-19 Rules
In a report shared by the Straits Times, the latest measures are as follows:
1. Group size was reduced from five to two individuals.
The current maximum group size will be reduced from five to two members. The daily limit of five unique visitors per household will be reduced to two unique visitors per household.
Individuals should continue to restrict their average number of social events to no more than two a day, whether to another household or meeting friends and family members in a public location, according to the task force.
The limit on two distinct guests per family, as well as the amount of social events per day, does not apply to grandchildren who are cared for by their grandparents on a regular basis.
The task force, on the other hand, strongly advised grandparents to get Covid-19 vaccines to protect themselves and their grandchildren from infection.
To minimise the risk of transmission, grandparents should keep their grandchildren from separate households apart as much as possible.
2. In addition to stricter measures for higher-risk settings, no dine-in is permitted.
For higher-risk situations, such as when a large number of people are without masks for an extended period of time, safe management procedures are tightened.
Both indoor and outdoor dining will be prohibited, including at hawker centers and food courts.
Wedding banquets would be a thing of the past. For those planning a wedding on Sunday, however, a special arrangement can be made. They can go ahead, but all guests must undergo pre-event testing.
Only takeout or delivery will be permitted in restaurants and bars.
Strenuous indoor fitness courses, as well as strenuous individual and group indoor sports and exercise events, will not be permitted.
Personalised facilities that involve the removal of masks, such as facials and saunas, as well as singing and the playing of instruments that require the deliberate expulsion of air, such as wind or brass instruments, would be prohibited.
Medical and dental services, on the other hand, will proceed.
Moreover, due to the higher risk of transmission posed by customers in close proximity and dining in for extended periods with their masks off, eateries and hawker centres will only provide takeaway and delivery during this time, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Friday.
3. Employers should make working from home the default option.
According to the task force, employers must ensure that workers who are willing to work from home do so. Those that require workers to return to work can employ staggered start times and flexible working hours.
Social events at work would not be permitted. Meal breaks may be taken at work, but employees should avoid mixing with their coworkers until their masks have been removed.
4. Smaller group sizes and mall capacity
- Worship: Events with no pre-event testing are limited to 50 participants, and events with pre-event testing are limited to 100. This will extend to worship services and congregational gatherings. During this time, live singing will be turned off.
- Shopping malls and showrooms: The occupancy limits will be lowered from the existing limit of 10 sqm per person of gross floor space to 16 sqm per person. On Sunday, odd and even date entry restrictions for popular malls will continue.
- Attractions: The operational capacity of attractions that have received approval would be reduced from 50% to 25%. Indoor and outdoor displays will accommodate up to 100 people who have completed pre-event testing and 50 people who have not.
- Museums and public libraries will operate at a 25% reduction in size. Pre-event testing can allow up to 100 people into cinema halls, but only 50 are permitted without testing.
- Meetings, incentives, seminars, and exhibits all follow the same law.
- Receptions for weddings will not be permitted. Marriage solemnizations may continue for up to 100 people if pre-event testing is done, or 50 people if no testing is done.
- Funerals: The attendance limit is 20 people or less on all days of the service, including the burial and cremation, down from 30 people currently.
5. Improved testing
All people with acute respiratory infection symptoms will be given antigen rapid testing (ART) at Swab and Send Home Public Health Preparedness Clinics (Sash PHPCs), polyclinics, emergency rooms, and regional swab centers (RSCs). The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test will be used in conjunction with this.
For ART, the time from swab registration to results notification is usually about 30 minutes, but for PCR tests, it can take up to 48 hours.
Both those who have such symptoms will be eligible for both tests, which will be paid for by the government.
Starting on May 15, about 200 Sash PHPCs that are already accredited as ART providers will be subjected to the enhanced testing regime, which will then be extended to include all Sash PHPCs, as well as polyclinics, emergency departments, and RSCs.
In line with this, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a Facebook post said: “The new clusters and unlinked community cases in the past fortnight are very worrying. We are testing more intensively, and doing our utmost to ring-fence the transmissions. But we also need stricter restrictions to stop more cases from popping up.
“Please stay at home as far as possible, go out only for essential tasks, and follow government advisories. If you do go out, remember to practise safe distancing measures, like using TraceTogether and wearing a mask,” he added.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Health has stated that existing childcare arrangements will be allowed to continue and that grandchildren who are cared for by their grandparents on a regular basis will not be counted against the two-visitor cap. Grandparents, on the other hand, are strongly advised to get vaccinated against Covid-19 and avoid mixing grandchildren from separate households.