From 22 November 2022, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that Singapore will be exiting the “Stabilisation Phase” and entering a “Transition Phase”. This means that safe management measures will be relaxed for both businesses and individuals.
This comes on the back of daily cases falling below 3,000 on average. Of those infected, 99% display either no or mild symptoms – and are recovering at home. At the same time 0.8% of those infected require oxygen supplementation, and 0.2% of them require ICU care. Currently, the ICU capacity is at 60%, a reduction of the rate when the extension of the Stabilisation Phase was extended.
We cover 5 things that businesses and individuals need to know about the Transition Phase.
#1 From 2 To 5 Pax From 22 Nov 2021
Anyone keeping up with the news (and even those not keeping up), would already know that we can now dine-in at restaurants in groups of 5 people from different households. Households can also receive up to 5 visitors from different households each day.
This is a morale booster for many individuals. F&B establishments will get some much needed reprieve as people are able to dine in larger groups. A larger number of home visitors may also boost order sizes.
The first group of hawker centres and coffee shops that can receive groups of 5 pax will start from 23 November 2021. More will gradually open up.
#2 Removal Of Concession For Vaccination-Differentiated Safe Management Measures (VDS)
Currently, unvaccinated individuals can get a Pre-Event Testing (PET) to enter a setting that requires vaccination-differentiated safe management measures. The latest announcement removes this concession from 1 January 2022, in order to protect unvaccinated individuals from getting infected.
This means that only those who are a) fully vaccinated, b) recovered, c) medically-ineligible, or d) children aged 12 and below can enter setting where VDS is required.
From 1 December 2021, VDS will be expanded to more facilities, including all NLB libraries and selected activities under the People’s Association (PA).
While not mentioned in the announcement, this may potentially also affect unvaccinated employees who want to or are required to return to the workplace after 1 January 2022.
#3 More Activities To Resume
For couples getting married and wedding venue operators, the positive is that more activities will be allowed from 22 November 2021. This includes unmasking by the couple throughout the event (which will make for better pictures), as well as singing by members of the wedding party. They will either have to undergo an ART supervised by the wedding venue operator or have a valid PET.
In the past week, certain sports activities had been resumed via pilots launched by ActiveSG and PA. Using learnings of these pilots, more senior-centric activities will also be opened with the Health Promotion Board (HPB) and National Silver Academy.
#4 Extension Of Support Measures (At Lower Rate) To January 2022
In the Transition Phase, the government will taper the support measures offered to businesses.
Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) – The JSS will be reduced to 10% from 22 November to 19 December 2021. This is a reduction from the 25% provided during the Stabilisation Phase from 27 September to 21 November 2021.
Rental Waiver – 0.5 month of rental waiver will be provided to cooked food and market stallholders managed by NEA or NEA-approved vendors. No extension of the Rental Support Scheme (RSS) for other types of businesses.
COVID-19 Driver Relief Scheme (CDRF) – Extension of $10 and $5 per vehicle per day in December 2021 and January 2022 respectively. The CDRF already provided for $5 per vehicle per day in December 2021, and eligible drivers will now receive a higher payout.
There will be no drawdown from Past Reserves for these support measures.
#5 Glaring Omission Of Any Update To Current 100% Work-From-Home Arrangement
One glaring omission from the latest announcement is any mention of work-from-home arrangements being eased. As such, the current 100% work-from-home arrangement is still in place.
This creates some uncertainty for businesses that were looking forward to resuming certain activities that required employees to return to work. It also creates uncertainty as to when employees can return to work.
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