To much jubilation and perhaps a healthy dose of caution, Singapore entered Phase Two of the lifting of Circuit Breaker last Friday (19 June 2020), after the Multi-Ministry Taskforce was satisfied that community infection rates have remained stable despite the increase in workplace activity during Phase One.
Here’s a summary of what is allowed (and not allowed) and what companies need to take note of in order to not (unknowingly) infringe on safe distancing measures.
Phase Two: Resumption Of Most Activities, Subject To Safe Distancing
Apart from a small list of exemptions, most businesses and social activities are permitted to resume during Phase Two, so long as individuals can observe a safe distance of at least one metre at all times, or if that is not feasible, safe distancing should be observed between groups of not more than five persons.
There are detailed advisories for businesses operating food & beverage establishments, retail establishments and lifestyle-related services, as well as other sector-specific requirements.
However, it should be noted that working from home must still be the default mode of working, with those who have been working from home so far must continue to do so, and only go to the office only when there is no alternative.
Business Activities Under Exemption List And Are Not Allowed During Phase Two
The majority of exempted activities that are still not allowed during Phase Two are settings where large numbers of people are likely to come into close contact for a prolonged period of time, especially in enclosed spaces.
These include large-scale events like conferences, seminars and exhibitions, as well as entertainment venues like bars, nightclubs, karaoke outlets, cinemas, and indoor and outdoor attractions.
You can refer to the full list of permitted firms (and exceptions) based on their Singapore Standard Industrial Classification (SSIC) codes.
If you business isn’t covered under the list of firms allowed to operate, you can apply for time-limited exemptions (up to two a week) with a detailed manpower plan and description of the proposed functions that you need to perform and explanation of why remote work isn’t possible.
What Should Companies Do To Safeguard Health In Their Workplaces?
To help companies resume operations in their offices and workplaces safely, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), together with the NTUC and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) has issued a set of Safe Management Measures.
As mentioned in the prior section above, working from home is still the default arrangement, with companies encouraged to leverage on technology to conduct virtual meetings as far as possible.
If working physically in the office, employers need to adopt precautions like staggered work and break hours, encourage non-peak-hour travel, implement split shift or split teams where possible, with no physical interaction between employees in different shifts, teams or worksites.
Other measures spelt out include wearing of masks at the workplace is mandatory, implementation of access control using SafeEntry, continued adherence to travel advisories, stepping up of cleaning and disinfecting of common areas, and monitoring of employees who are feeling unwell.
Adherence to these measures is mandatory. MOM, Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and Enterprise Singapore (ESG) have been making aggressive enforcement checks and taken swift action against errant employers, such as issuing stop-work orders and issuing fines.
To ensure these measures are carried out, companies need to implement a detailed monitoring plan, appoint Safe Management Officers, and conduct inspections, checks and correction actions to ensure the full list of measures is adhered to.
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