This article was first published on 5 May 2021 and has been updated to reflect further tightening of Safe Management Measures on 14 May 2021.
Singapore had been making good progress in containing the spread of COVID-19 until the beginning of April. This had led to further easing of safe management measures which came as recently as 5 April 2021.
In the 7-day period between 21 April to 27 April 2021, there were just 11 community cases reported. However, in the next 7 days, from 28 April to 4 May 2021, there were 61 community cases reported. Between the 61 COVID-19 community cases reported, there were diverse variants found:
- South African variant (B.1.351) – 12 cases
- UK variant (B.1.1.7) – 7 cases; UK variant (B.1.525) – 1 case
- Indian variant (B.1.617.2) – 7 cases; Indian variant (B.1.617.1) – 3 cases
- Brazilian variant (P1) – 3 cases
A pattern of local unlinked community transmissions has also been persisting. In the 7-day period between 7 May to 13 May, there were 71 community cases in Singapore. On 14 May 2021, there were 24 community cases. This showed that the already tightened measures were not having the intended effect to slow down the spread.
Back To Phase 2 Standards Of Safe Management Measures
Initially, this led to the Ministry of Health (MOH) announcement on 4 May 2021, tightening safe management measures – back to Phase 2 standards – from 8 May 2021 to 31 May 2021.
This was further tightened on 14 May 2021, with the more stringent guidelines to take effect from 16 May to 13 June 2021.
These measures will reduce the risk of transmissions by reducing overall footfall at public and work spaces.
#1 Work-from-Home Back To Default Working Arrangement
During the initial round of tightening measures, only up to 50% of employees who can work from home were allowed to return to their workplaces. This was a reduction from 75% being allowed to return.
From 16 May to 13 June 2021, businesses will have to ensure that all employees who are able to work from home do so.
For employees who are required to return to office, employers should ensure that they are not cross-deployed to multiple worksites. Employers should also continue to stagger starting times for employees working onsite, and implement flexible working hours where possible.
#2 Stop To Workplace Social Gatherings
From 5 April 2021, it was announced that social and recreational gatherings for colleagues would be allowed as long as team sizes are kept to 8 persons.
From 8 May to 30 May 2021, such gatherings should be avoided. If they cannot be avoided, only up to 5 persons can mingle.
From 16 May to 13 June 2021, workplace-related social gatherings are not allowed.
#3 Cessation Of Dine-In F&B Establishments (Including Hawker Centres)
As of 8 May 2021, only up to 5 people per group are allowed to dine-in at F&B establishments. This was a reduction from the previously allowed 8 person-groups.
From 16 May 2021 to 13 June 2021, the option for patrons to dine-in at F&B establishments is no longer available. F&B business owners may only offer takeaway or delivery services.
#4 Home-Based Businesses To Operate With Contactless Delivery / Collection
Previously, Home-Based Businesses (HBBs) were allowed to operate should they adhere to safe management measures (eg, 5 unique visitors a day).
From 16 May to 13 June 2021, HBBs can only continue operations if they shift their business model to operate only on contactless delivery/collection.
Home-based businesses also have to comply with the tightened cap of up to 2 distinct visitors per household per day (down from 5 distinct visitors per household per day).
#5 MICE Events Will Allow Up To 100 Attendees (With PET)
Another safe management measure that was eased from 5 April 2021 was that event attendee numbers could rise to 250 people for certain events, including tradeshows if pre-event testing (PET) is carried out.
From 16 May 2021, this will be revised down to only allow up to 50 attendees (without PET) and 100 attendees (with PET).
Attendees have to be masked at all times and singing /playing of instruments that require expulsion of air (e.g. wind, brass instruments) for live performances will no longer be allowed.
#6 Wedding Solemnisations Will Allow Up To 100 Attendees (With PET); Wedding Receptions Not Allowed
With pre-event testing for the couple, marriage solemnisations can proceed with up to 100 attendees. For couples who do not wish to have their guests undergo pre-event testing, they will only be allowed to have 50 attendees.
From 16 May 2021, wedding receptions are no longer allowed.
#7 Others Types Of Events & Venues
All mass participation events will be suspended and no spectators will be allowed.
Live Performances and pilot B2B Events were initially allowed to have up to 750 attendees. This was reduced to 250 attendees between 8 May to 30 May 2021. From 16 May to 13 June 2021, this will be further reduced to 100 attendees (with PET) or 50 attendees (without PET)
Cinema capacity was reduced to 100 attendees, but could increase to 250 attendees with pre-event testing. Now, capacity will be further reduced to 50 attendees, and 100 attendees with pre-event testing. Cinemas will have to ensure that they implement safe distancing measures between groups of up to 2 pax. The consumption of food and beverages will no longer be allowed.
Attractions that have received MTI’s prior approval were permitted to operate up to 50% operating capacity from 8 May 2021, down from 65% previously. The maximum number of attendees will be capped at 100. From 16 May 2021, this is also further reduced to 25% operating capacity. The maximum number of attendees now will be capped at 100 (with PET) and 50 (without PET).
The capacity for Museums and Public Libraries was reduced to 50%. This will now be further reduced to 25% from 16 May 2021.
Tour sizes will be reduced from 50 attendees to 20 attendees.
#8 Closure Of Indoor Gyms, Fitness and Health Studios
As these places tend to be a hotspot for transmission, with a high density of people unmasked, these venues will have to close from 8 May to 30 May 2021. This will be extended to 13 June 2021.
#9 Cessation Of Services That Require Removal Of Masks Indoors
From 16 May 2021, services that require the removal of masks (eg, saunas and facials) will be ceased. This also includes any F&B dine-in options.
These restrictions will not apply to medical and dental consultations that require patients to have their masks off.
TraceTogether-Only Safe Entry (TT-Only SE) To be Brought Forward To 17 May 2021
Previously announced to come into effect from 1 June 2021, the TT-Only SE will now be brought forward to 17 May 2021.
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