Seeing community cases shrinking, most businesses will also breathe a sigh of relief that the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced (on 10 June 2021) that we will be moving into Phase 3 (Heightened Alert) after 13 June 2021.
Ominously, the government is still branding the next phase as Phase 3 (Heightened Alert). Which signifies that everyone needs to continue being prudent with safe management measures.
That being said, here are 6 things that businesses need to know about moving into Phase 3 (Heightened Alert) in the coming days and weeks.
#1 There Is A 2-Step Easing Into Phase 3 (Heightened Alert)
Rather than transiting into Phase 3 (Heightened Alert) immediately, Singapore will taking a 2-step approach to moving into it from the end of Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) on 13 June 2021.
The 1st step will begin on 14 June 2021 – right after the end of Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) – while the 2ndstep will begin on 21 June 2021 – one week after the 1st step. According to the MOH press release, the 2ndstep will also be contingent on the situation remaining “under control” during the 1st step.
#2 Work-From-Home Will Remain The Default Work Arrangement
For employers or employees hoping to go back into the workplace after Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) – we got to wait a little longer.
This is not forthcoming in the next Phase 3 (Heightened Alert), with work-from-home to continue as the default work arrangement. That means, apart from employees in the sectors that can resume, most other employees have to continue working in the same way as Phase 2 (Heightened Alert).
The reason for this is to reduce the “overall footfall and interactions at common spaces at or near the workplace, and in public places, including public transport”. Businesses should also continue adhering to safe management measures which were already in place during Phase 2 (Heightened Alert).
#3 More Targeted Support Measures
Because of the 2-step approach to transiting into Phase 3 (Heightened Alert), certain businesses will be impacted for a longer period, beyond 13 June 2021.
The government will extend the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) for the affected sectors until 20 June 2021. Furthermore, from 21 June to 30 June 2021, the affected sectors will receive 10% JSS support.
At the same time, the government will also cushion the impact of lower taxi and private hire car ridership by extending the COVID-19 Driver Relief Fund (CDRF) for three more months. This will be $300 per month per vehicle for two months and $150 per month per vehicle for the third month.
#4 Regular Fast and Easy Testing (FET) For Employees In Higher-Risk, Mask-Off Jobs
For businesses in higher risk activities and mask-off jobs, all employees will be placed on the FET. These businesses include dine-in F&B establishments, personal care and appearance services that require mask removal, gyms and fitness studios where clients are unmasked.
The FET encompasses using tests such as the antigen rapid test (ART), regardless of vaccination status of employees. The MOH press release also mentions that mandatory FET testing will be progressive rolled out to larger establishments first and then to smaller businesses after that. Progressive FET will be rolled out for dine-in F&B establishments from next month (July).
#5 What Can Businesses Do In The 1st Step Towards Phase 3 (Heightened Alert)?
For everyone, you can will look forward to the increase in the current group size limit from 2 to 5 persons. While this will not impact how businesses can run (perhaps with the exception of Home-Based Businesses), it can improve employees’ morale and mental health.
More specifically for businesses can look forward to increases in event size and capacity limits as well.
#i Attractions, cruises, museums and public libraries can operate at higher capacity levels. Attractions, including two cruise pilots, have received approval from the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) to increase the current capacity from 50% from 25%. Museums and public libraries will also be allowed to operate at 50% capacity.
#ii Cinemas, MICE, live performances, spectator sport events can increase event sizes, with pre-event testing (PET). Live performances and spectator sports events can resume with increased audience size to 250 attendees with PET. Without PET, only events with 50 or fewer attendees will be allowed. Unmasking and singing or playing of wind instruments at live performances will remain prohibited until the 2nd step of easing from 21 June 2021.
#iii Congregational and other worship activities can also take place with up to 250 attendees with PET, and 50 attendees without PET. Similarly, unmasking and singing or playing of wind instruments at live performances will remain prohibited until the 2nd step of easing from 21 June 2021.
#iv Marriage Solemnisations in external venues (i.e. not at home or in the Registry of Marriages/Registry of Muslim Marriages building) will also be allowed to take place with up to 250 attendees with PET. This number excludes vendors, such as the solemnisers. Similarly, no PET required with 50 of fewer attendees. For marriage solemnisations held at home, only up to five visitors will be allowed . This excludes the household members, solemnisers and vendors, but is limited at up to a total of 10 attendees (excluding solemniser and vendor). Wedding receptions (because it includes dining) remain prohibited until the 2nd step from 21 June 2021 onwards.
#v Personal care and appearance services which require masks to be removed will be allowed to resume as well.
#6 What Can Businesses Do In The 2nd Step Towards Phase 3 (Heightened Alert)?
If the situation remains “under control”, further easing into Phase 3 (Heightened Alert) will take place on 21 June 2021.
#i F&B establishments can resume dining in at this point. Group sizes will still be capped at 5 persons. The MOH press release also mentions that they will be “significantly stepping up enforcement and will take firmer enforcement action for any breaches” of prevailing safe management measures.
#ii Wedding receptions will also be allowed to resume with up to 100 attendees (including wedding couple but excluding vendors), with PET required for all attendees. For wedding receptions up to 50 attendees, PET is required only for all members of the wedding party (of up to 20 attendees including the wedding couple).
#iii Live performances with unmasking and singing/playing of wind instruments will be allowed. While more information will be released by the National Arts Council (NAC).
#iv Gyms, fitness studios and mask-off sports activities can now resume, with safe distancing of at least 2 metres between persons and 3 metres between groups of up to 5 persons. Sports classes (whether indoor or outdoor) will be capped at 30 persons (including the instructor). SportsSG will release further details for businesses in the sector.
#v In-person tuition and enrichment classes for those aged 18 and below will be allowed to resume with enhanced safe management measures. MOE will announce these measures at a future date for such businesses. Higher risk arts and culture classes such as singing, and wind instruments will also be allowed to resume. NAC will be providing further guidance on these classes.
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