As Singapore gradually re-opens, Fast and Easy Testing (FET) will be an important way for the government to detect and ringfence community cases early. From 13 September, the government will increase the frequency of FET – requiring employers to test their employees once a week instead of bi-weekly.
Here are six things businesses should know about FET for their employees.
#1 What is Fast and Easy Testing (FET)?
FET is a means for COVID-19 testing, to be done anywhere, quickly and regularly.
MOH has announced that staff working at business venues with unmasked customers must be part of the FET regime. More recently, the government has also extended FET requirements to businesses with frequent community interactions.
#2 Who Needs To Do FET?
Regardless of vaccination status, all staff (including business owners) who work in settings with unmasked customers or where there is prolonged contact with between individuals will be placed on a regular FET regime. This has also been extended to employees who have frequent community interactions. This includes:
- Dine-in F&B establishments
- Personal care and appearance services that require removal of masks (e.g. facial services, saunas, make-up services)
- Gyms and fitness studios where clients are unmasked
- Retail mall workers (from 13 Sep 2021)
- Supermarket staff (from 13 Sep 2021)
- Last-mile delivery personnel (including parcel and food delivery personnel) (from 13 Sep 2021)
- Public and private transport workers (taxi drivers, private hire car drivers and all public transport frontline staff) (from 13 Sep 2021)
Workers at these locations include cleaners and part-time staff as well. For businesses with administrative staff not working at a separate office location, no FET regime is necessary.
The government has also committed to supplying every company 8 testing kits per onsite employee. With this, it stated that “we expect all companies to initiate weekly testing for their onsite staff” for a period of two months.
#3 When Does FET Start?
From 21 June onwards, FET testing regime will be progressively rolled out. A 14-day FET requirement for staff who need to be in the programme will be made mandatory around mid-July.
From 13 September 2021, the frequency of Routine Rostered Testing (RRT) under FET will be once every 7 days, instead of fortnightly.
#4 How FET Will be Carried Out?
The FET will be implemented using tests such as the antigen rapid test (ART). Most of the required FET can be done through a system of Employer Supervised Self-Swabs (ESSS). This supervision can be done on location or via virtual means, such as video conference. Supervisors for the FET regime will need to undergo a free training programme by the government.
Businesses need to onboard ESSS by filling out FET and supervisor registrations at their relevant agency. For example, dine-in F&B establishments should go to the Singapore Food Agency website for this.
Companies will need to submit FET results by uploading the results on the Swab Registration System (SRS). To find out how you can do this, you can refer to this detailed guide.
For employees who return a “AG+” or “Double Invalid” test result from ESSS,
a) if they are showing signs of acute respiratory infection (ARI) e.g. cough, sore throat, runny nose, loss of sense of smell, you will have to
- contact the Ministry of Health’s Case Management Task Group (CMTG) at 6435-4060 to arrange for conveyance of that employee to a Swab Isolation Facility (SIF) for further isolation and confirmatory PCR tests.
- You also have to notify the employee.
b) if they are not showing signs of ARI, you will have to
- contact and make an appointment for that employee to visit a doctor for a confirmatory PCR test at a Swab and Send Home Public Health Preparedness Clinic (SASH PHPC)
- provide an employer-signed copy of the referral note to the worker, and arrange for the employee to be conveyed to the SASH PHPC to take a confirmatory PCR test
- remind the employee to bring his or her NRIC, Employment Pass, S Pass or Work Permits (whichever is relevant) for verification at that SASH PHPC, and to self-isolate in the interim
- notify that employee that he or she has to self-isolate at home until the PCR test result has returned
The requirement is that companies have to remind employees who have obtained an “AG+” or “Double Invalid” test result to go for their confirmatory PCR swab on a daily basis. After 72 hours from the time of the ART result, you must check if the individuals have gone for their confirmatory PCR swabs and report those who have yet to do so within the same day via go.gov.sg/artpositivenoncompliance.
For small businesses unable to organise supervised self-swabs on their own, Quick Test Centres (QTCs) will be set up to support those who need to be tested. This started at (as of September 2021) from 10am to 5pm daily and by appointment only:
- Badminton hall at 528 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10
- Pavilion at 325A Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3
- Bedok Town Square
- Bishan Sports Hall car park
- 321 Clementi Avenue 5
- MOE Heritage Centre at 402 Commonwealth Drive
- 814 Hougang Avenue 10
- Jurong West Sports Centre car park
- Multi-purpose hall at 509 Jurong West
- 75 Marine Drive
- 32 New Market Road, level 4
- Pasir Ris Sports Hall car park
- Punggol Town Square
- 84A Redhill Lane
- Pavilion at 55 Sims Drive
- 506 Tampines Central 1
- Tekka Lane facility
- 2 Toa Payoh Lorong 7
- Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange
- Yishun Bus Interchange
#5 The Government Will Subsidise The Costs Of Routine Regular Testing Until End-2021
ART kits will be made available to establishments where staff are required to be placed on the Routine Regular Testing (RRT) under the FET regime. The government will bear the cost of these kits for 3 months, until 30 September 2021.
On 6 September 2021, on the back of increasing the frequency of testing requirements, the government further announced that it will subsidise the cost of testing both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, until the end of 2021. As mentioned above, it will also supply every company with 8 test kits for each onsite to encourage them to carry out weekly testing.
Companies can submit their orders for test kits on the government’s Antigen Rapid Test (Art) Self-Test Kits Collection Portal.
#6 Where Can Businesses Buy ART Kits Subsequently?
In the initial phase, businesses will be provided with ART test kits for free. Companies can log onto the portal (linked above) to register for self-collection. One-month’s supply will be provided each time, and these kits need to be stored in a cool location.
Four ART self-test kits have been authorised in the interim for sale to the general public. They are the Abbott PanBioTM COVID-19 Antigen Self-test, QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test, SD Biosensor SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Self-Test Nasal and the SD Biosensor Standard Q COVID-19 Ag Home Test.
These kits produce results in less than 20 minutes, and are self-administered. They will be available at the retail pharmacies of Watsons, Guardian and Unity from 16 June. Progressively, more retail locations will sell these kits.
ART kit users who test positive/invalid indicates that they might be infected with COVID-19. You should go for a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm if you are infected with COVID-19 as soon as possible.
Employers must call a clinic to make an appointment and confirm that they are able to obtain a confirmatory PCR test during their visit, before heading down to the clinic. Individuals who return a positive/invalid test should travel via private transport (car or taxi) with the windows wound down (switch off air conditioning), and sit alone in the back seat (on the other side of the driver) and wear a surgical mask.
This article was first published on 14 June 2021 and has been updated with the latest information
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