Corporate Wellbeing Asia 2023
Singapore's endemic community measures, effective 26 April: Group & capacity limits, booster shots, and more

Singapore's endemic community measures, effective 26 April: Group & capacity limits, booster shots, and more

At a glance, there will no longer be a social group size limit of 10, as well as the capacity limit of 75% for larger settings/events with more than 1,000 pax (with mask-on) will be removed.

Effective 26 April 2022 (Tuesday), Singapore will ease various COVID-19 community measures from social group sizes, to capacity limits, and vaccination-differentiated safety management measures (VDS), after adjusting its Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level from Orange to Yellow.

This move is, according to the Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF), the result of decreasing daily infection numbers - with the seven-day moving average of daily local case numbers falling from around 18,300 at its peak to under 3,100 in the past week. Furthermore, the number of hospitalisations has fallen from 1,726 at its peak to 266, and the number of COVID-19 related Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients is in single digits. "The incidence of severe illness has also remained low. In the past 28 days, 0.03% and 0.2% of local cases required ICU care and oxygen supplementation respectively," the Taskforce added.

COVID-19 community measures

On that note, the updated community measures will be as follows:

  • Social group sizes - There will no longer be a group size limit, meaning that individuals will not be required to keep to a group of 10 persons for mask-off activities. The cap on the number of unique visitors per household, previously 10 persons at any one time, will also be lifted. In addition, the attendee limits for home solemnisations and home funerals will also be lifted.

  • Wearing of masks - Mask-wearing will continue to be required in indoor settings when people leave their homes, including on public transport. Mask-wearing will, however, remain optional in outdoor settings. That said, the Taskforce encourages individuals to exercise precaution. For instance, in crowded outdoor areas, it will still be a good idea to wear masks.

  • Workplace requirements - All workers may now return to the workplace, an increase from the current limit of 75% of those who can work from home. Notwithstanding the mask-on requirement in indoor settings, workers will be allowed to remove their masks at the workplace:
    • When they are not interacting physically with others, and
    • When they are not in customer-facing areas.

The Taskforce noted that while this concession will provide some flexibility for workers as more return to the workplace, workers are advised to exercise social responsibility and maintain an appropriate safe distance from others while unmasked. Furthermore, employers are encouraged to retain and promote flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting and staggered work hours, as a permanent feature of the workplace. "Beyond the workplace benefits of flexible work arrangements, this will also help workers avoid peak period crowds as more of us return to the workplace," the Taskforce explained.

Don't miss: Singapore's workplace measures effective 26 April 2022: Mask-off when not interacting, FWAs urged as permanent feature, more

  • Safe distancing - As group size limits are lifted, safe distancing will no longer be required between individuals or between groups.

  • Capacity limits - The capacity limit of 75% for larger settings/events with more than 1,000 pax (with mask-on) will be removed. However, all nightlife businesses where dancing among patrons is one of the intended activities will continue to be subject to a 75% capacity limit.

Vaccination-differentiated safety management measures

Beyond the five aforementioned community measures, the Taskforce also announced that VDS, from 26 April 2022, will be removed from all settings, except for: events with more than 500 participants at any one time; nightlife establishments where dancing among patrons is one of the intended activities; and food and beverage (F&B) establishments, including restaurants, coffee shops and hawker centres. The reason for this is because these are settings which are "assessed to pose higher risks of transmission due to factors such as large crowds and unmasked activities".

Specific to F&B establishments, the Taskforce shared that while VDS is still required, these establishments will no longer need to conduct VDS checks for their customers. "This is already the case for hawker centres and coffee shops. Instead, the onus will be on the individuals dining in to abide by the rules. Random spot-checks will continue to be conducted to ensure that only fully vaccinated persons are dining in at F&B establishments," it added.

What's more, the Taskforce further announced, workforce vaccination measures (WVM) - implemented by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) - will also be lifted.

"Nevertheless, given that the pandemic is not over and there are still significant risks in the coming months, tripartite partners have agreed that employers should have the flexibility to continue implementing vaccination-related instructions for employees for workplace health and safety and business continuity reasons, and in accordance with employment law. MOM will provide further details," it said.

Health risk notices (HRNs)

"Given the improved situation, the Ministry of Health (MOH) will stop issuing HRNs to close contacts from 26 April 2022," the Taskforce announced.

As such, individuals infected with COVID-19 will no longer need to submit details of household contacts online. Persons, however, should continue to exercise social responsibility. For instance, COVID-19 positive persons should inform their close contacts so that the contacts can take the necessary precautions under Protocol 3 - i.e. test themselves to be negative before leaving their homes - to prevent further spread. Settings with vulnerable persons (e.g. hospitals, nursing homes and elderly homes) should also request proof of a negative antigen rapid test (ART) result for persons with recent exposure before allowing entry.

TraceTogether (TT) and SafeEntry (SE)

As HRNs will be ceased, COVID-19 cases also need not upload their TT data or submit their TT token from 26 April 2022. Most venues will, on that note, no longer require the public to check in using the TT application or token, except larger events with more than 500 participants at any one time and certain nightlife establishments, where VDS checks are still required at entry.

"The TT/SE capabilities will be maintained as a means of conducting these VDS checks, and to enable us to rapidly step up contact tracing and VDS checks should we need to do so again in response to a new Variant of Concern. The public is therefore strongly encouraged to keep the TT application on their phones as well as their TT tokens," the Taskforce said.

Combined Test Centres (CTCs) and Quick Test Centres (QTCs)

On top of the ceasing of the aforementioned functions, free testing at the Combined Test Centres (CTCs) and Quick Test Centres (QTCs) will also cease from 26 April 2022 onwards. Paid ART testing will, however, still be available for members of the public at the CTCs/QTCs, GP clinics or via tele-ART providers here.

Vaccination Centres

Further, the public should note that MOH will progressively reduce the number of Vaccination Centres (VCs) - that are administering specific vaccine doses such as Moderna/Spikevax, and Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty - around Singapore from end-May 2022 in two waves.

The first wave will see VCs like Bishan Community Club, Clementi Community Centre, and Teck Ghee Community Club cease operations from 31 May 2022. As such, VCs offering the Moderna/Spikevax vaccine will administer the last Dose 1 on 2 May 2022; VCs offering the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine will administer the last Dose 1 on 10 May 2022, and Dose 2 and booster doses will continue to be administered until 31 May 2022. The second will, for instance, affect VCs like Canberra Community Club, Bedok Community Centre, and Queenstown Community Centre from 30 June 2022. With that, VCs offering the Moderna/Spikevax vaccine will administer the last Dose 1 on 2 June 2022; VCs offering the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine will administer the last Dose 1 on 9 June 2022, and Dose 2 and booster doses will continue to be administered until 30 June 2022.

However, the VCs at Former Hong Kah Secondary School and Raffles City Convention Centre will remain in operation. The Taskforce said that it will continue to ensure the availability of COVID-19 vaccinations by consolidating all resources into several Joint Testing and Vaccination Centres, and will share more details in due course.

Booster vaccination

Speaking of vaccination, the Taskforce shared that the Expert Committee on COVID-19 (EC19V) has recommended a booster dose for recovered persons aged 12 and above who have completed their primary vaccination, in view of waning immunity. The recommended booster, it explained, should not be delayed beyond nine months after completing their primary vaccination series, and should be received at least 28 days after the infection.

With that, from 1 June 2022, these recovered persons will need to receive the booster dose within nine months of their last primary vaccination dose, in order to maintain their vaccinated status. "Individuals may walk into any Vaccination Centre, before 7pm, to receive their booster dose," it said.

As to the booster vaccination for all recovered dormitory dwelling migrant workers (MWs) and non-dormitory dwelling work-permit holder MWs in the construction, marine shipyard and process (CMP) sector, the Taskforce shared that it will "be scheduled and announced later".

With regard to persons aged 60 to 79 years, the Taskforce said that a second booster shot will be offered should they wish to take it. It is noteworthy that the second booster vaccine dose should be administered about five months after receiving the first booster. This is in addition to the earlier recommendation of a second booster for specific groups (age 80 and above, residents of aged care facilities, and the medically vulnerable). "Persons aged 60 and above can receive their second booster by walking into any Vaccination Centre offering mRNA vaccines, before 7pm," the Taskforce added.

Beyond the local community, the Taskforce reminded that booster and vaccination services will also be extended to short term travellers, enabling them to pay to receive COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters in Singapore. Individuals may now, according to the Taskforce, receive the Moderna vaccine under the Private Vaccination Programme (PVP) at Healthway Medical at Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital, and more clinics will be progressively added into such functions. As such, interested individuals may contact the clinic directly.

Read also: Singapore relaxes entry measures, including requirement for pre-departure testing for fully-vaccinated incoming travellers

Image / Pixabay

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