SINGAPORE: Singapore on Friday announced easing of Covid-19 restrictions from June 21, including allowing a group of two to dine-in, as it evaluates its reopening plans amid a surge in the number of coronavirus cases in the country.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said that the group size of two will also apply to indoor fitness activities with masks off, reports PTI.
Work-from-home will continue to remain the default, even as Singapore transitions through Phase 3 (Heightened Alert) in the coming weeks, the Ministry said. For employees who need to go to the workplace, start times must be staggered and flexible working hours implemented. Workers should not be cross-deployed to multiple worksites.
Workplaces are not allowed to have social gatherings or serve food and beverages at work-related events, the MOH said.
Singapore is calibrating its Covid-19 reopening plans amid a persistent number of unlinked coronavirus cases.
Singapore moved into the first stage of Phase 3 on June 14.
“Regrettably, we are unable to proceed with our second stage of reopening in light of the latest outbreaks and big cluster that we have discovered in Bukit Merah (food centres in the housing estate), and now we have to adjust our plans,” Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the multi-ministerial task force against Covid-19, said at a press conference on Friday.
With the adjusted measures, groups of more than two people who are not from the same household will not be allowed to dine-in together at food and beverage (F&B)outlets, even if they are split across multiple tables, said MOH in a separate media release.
Following a drop in Covid-19 cases earlier this month, the Health Ministry announced a two-step plan to move back to Phase 3 (Heightened Alert) on June 10. Restrictions on dining-in were among the measures that were scheduled to be eased from June 21.
However, since the first step of the reopening, Singapore has seen a rise in infections.
Responding to a question about whether members of the same household can eat out together in groups larger than two people, Wong said, “we allow people from the same household to have multiple tables, but they have to make very clear that they are from the same household, that is not new,” Channel News Asia reported.
Wedding receptions will not be allowed until mid-July.
Covid-19 rapid testing for employees in higher-risk settings such as F&B outlets will be ramped up to give Singapore “greater assurance” to open up further, “barring unforeseen circumstances and developments in the pandemic,” said co-chair of the task force Gan Kim Yong, the Minister for Trade and Industry.
Authorities expect a regular rapid testing regime to be in place by around mid-July. That is when group sizes for higher-risk activities may be allowed to go up to five people, he said.
“This is a more cautious approach to minimise the risk of spikes in cases and the formation of large clusters,” he added.
At F&B establishments, recorded music will not be allowed, to prevent the risk of transmission from customers talking loudly, the MOH said.
There should also be safe distancing of at least 1m between groups of diners and customers should keep their masks on at all times except when eating or drinking, the ministry said.
Gyms and fitness studios can resume indoor mask-off sports or exercise activities in group sizes of up to two people, and in classes of up to 30 people including the instructor, the ministry press release said.
There should be safe distancing of at least 2m between individuals and 3m between groups.
Mask-on activities and outdoor mask-off sports or exercise activities can continue in groups of no more than five people and in classes of up to 30 people including the instructor, said the Health Ministry.
Singapore reported 16 coronavirus cases till Friday noon, taking the national tally to 62,382.
Of these cases, 14 are in the community and two are imported, the MOH said.
Both imported cases are returning Singaporeans or permanent residents. They have been placed on stay-home notices or isolated upon arrival in Singapore.
Till Thursday, 151 patients remain hospitalised, while 221 are recovering in community facilities.
Thirty-four people have died due to Covid-19 complications.