More Safe Management Measures (SMM) will be put in place from 27 September 2021 to 24 October 2021. This will affect many businesses with employees deemed “able to work from home”. Such businesses are considered “non-affected” sectors – and thus, not provided with more government support.
This comes even as vaccination coverage has hit 82% in Singapore. While 98% of the cases were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms, the Ministry of Health (MOH) says “we can expect to reach a daily count of 3,200 and beyond within the next 2 weeks”. The tightened Safe Management Measures are to “minimise the strain on our overall healthcare capacity”.
MOH further states that “we do not need to return to a Heightened Alert”. Nevertheless, the tightened Safe Management Measures will affect all businesses – even if they are considered “Non-Affected.
Here are 8 things businesses need to know about the latest COVID-19 Safe Management Measures from 27 September 2021 to 24 October 2021.
#1 Work-From-Home Is Default Arrangement For Employees “Able To Work From Home”
Work-from-home will again become the default work arrangement for employees who are “able to work from home”. Employees who are able to work from home but need to return to the workplace for ad-hoc reasons are “strongly encouraged” do so only after testing negative via an Antigen Rapid Test (ART). Employers should ensure that you are notified of your employees’ return to the workplace and keep records of negative ART test results.
For employees who need to return to their workplaces, they are “strongly encouraged” to self-test via an ART. There should also be no cross-deployment or social interactions at workplaces. Employers should also implement flexible working hours and stagger start times for such employees.
For those running home-based businesses (HBB), you need to adhere to a reduced number of only 2 unique visitors to your home each day.
#2 Work-From-Home Employees Who Have Children Will Have A Tough Time Balancing Work
From 27 September 2021 to 6 October 2021, Home-Based Learning (HBL) will be implemented for all Primary and Special Education (SPED) schools.
Private Education Institutes (PEI) must also implement HBL for all students aged 12 and below from 27 September to 10 October 2021. However, any pre-school services may remain open. In-person tuition and enrichment classes for such students must also pivot online or be suspended. While preschools, MOE kindergartens, KCare Services and Student Care Centres will remain open, parents are being encouraged to keep their children at home.
It’s common sense that employees who have children at home with them will have a tougher time balancing work and caretaking. Employers need to understand this, and perhaps even support their employees who have children more.
#3 F&B Establishments Face Yet Another Blow
Group sizes will be scaled down to two persons from five persons previously. This also means that F&B establishments can only allow 2 persons to dine-in if they are vaccinated. They can allow unvaccinated individuals with a valid negative pre-event test (PET) result, recovered individuals, and children aged 12 years and below as part of the 2 persons.
Hawker centres and coffeeshops can continue accepting 2 persons dining in regardless of vaccination status.
As a special concession, dining-in will continue to be allowed at wedding receptions for up to 250 attendees if all are fully vaccinated. Groups will be limited to 5 persons per table.
#4 Up To 1,000 Fully Vaccinated Persons Can Still Attend Events
Large events of up to 1,000 persons for congregational and other worship services, cinemas, MICE, live performances and spectator sports events will be allowed. Attendees will have to be fully vaccinated. Otherwise, only up to 50 attendees will be allowed without Pre-Event Testing (PET). Children aged 12 and below cannot be vaccinated yet, and will be allowed to attend such events.
Marriage solemnisations may also continue, seated in groups of up to 2 persons, if they are fully vaccinated.
#5 25% Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) Will Be Provided From 27 September To 24 October 2021
While the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) will be provided for the period where Safe Management Measures are tightened, this only applies to sectors that are “significantly affected”. Hence, “non-affected” will not receive it.
Affected sectors that will receive 25% JSS payout for employee salaries include:
- Food & Beverage (F&B)
- Performing Arts and Arts Education
- Gyms and Fitness Studios
- Museums, Art Galleries, Historical Sites
- Family Entertainment
#6 Further 2 Week Rental Support Scheme (RSS) Payout
The Rental Support Scheme (RSS) helps to offset rents for affected businesses. There has been two payouts in the past when Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) measures were implemented.
A 2-week rental waiver for qualifying tenants in government-owner commercial properties will be provided. Cooked food and market stallholders in centres managed by the National Environment Agency (NEA) or NEA-operators will also be given 2 weeks rental waivers.
Qualifying tenants and owner-occupiers in private-owned commercial properties will also be provided with a 2-week rental relief cash payout under the Rental Support Scheme (RSS).
#7 COVID-19 Driver Relief Fund (CDRF) Extended In October and November 2021
To support taxi and private hire car drivers, the CDRF will provide $10 and $5 in October and November 2021 respectively. Without the extension, the CDRF payout would have ended in September 2021.
#8 Firms Can Apply For 8 ART Test Kits Per Onsite Employee
Businesses that are not already part of the Routine Rostered Testing (RRT), but have onsite employees, may apply for 8 ART test kits per onsite employee. This is to test your staff over a two-month period.
Applications are open until 13 October 2021.
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