Living with Omicron in Singapore

Among the main changes are updates to the number of household visitors in a day, increased quotas for migrant workers to step out, and the move to an unsupervised self-swab ART for VTL and Category I visitors.

After previously deferring the rollout, Singapore’s Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) has confirmed that Singapore will operate on streamlined Safe Management Measures (SMMs) in five core parameters (SMM 1–5), effective 15 March 2022.

The decision to proceed with the new measures comes as daily local case numbers have begun to fall gradually with peak seven-day moving average (7DMA) of 18,280 cases moving to a 7DMA of 16,392 in the past week. "Workload for hospitals, primary care, and COVID-19 treatment facilities remains high but is stabilising,” Ministry of Health (MOH) said.

With this in mind, the nation is implementing streamlined measures per the following SMM 1–5 framework:

  1. Group sizes;
  2. Mask-wearing;
  3. Workplace requirements;
  4. Safe distancing; and
  5. Capacity limits.

These five measures, and all the other SMMs to look out for in Singapore effective 15 March 2022 are detailed below.

1. Group sizes

The permissible group size for social gatherings remains at five persons. This is because group size directly affects the number of close contacts, and is likely to be the key factor in driving infections.

However, the maximum number of unique visitors per household will be increased – from five persons per day, to five persons at any one time.

This can be perceived as an easing of measures, as many infections do take place at home. However, the rationale is that households typically do not receive multiple sets of visitors outside of festive periods, and those who want to meet multiple groups of friends have been doing so outside of their homes.

2. Mask-wearing

Mask-wearing will continue to be required as a default in Singapore, as this measure confers significant protection against infection.

3. Workplace requirements 

The current practice of allowing up to 50% of employees who can work from home to return to the office will continue. Social gatherings in groups of five will be allowed, so long as group size and masking rules are adhered to. The restriction on cross-deployment of employees across workplaces is also removed, although employers may choose to avoid cross-deployment for their own business continuity reasons. 

4. Safe distancing

For all mask-off settings, safe distancing will continue to be required. Safe distancing will be encouraged but not required for mask-on settings, given that masking remains the key means of protection against infection. The safe distance required will be 1 metre for all such relevant settings.

Capacity limits (detailed below) will continue to be impose, for the nation to guard against gatherings of big crowds, even if they have their masks on.  

5. Capacity limits

Event sizes will be set based on the capacity of the venue. What this implies is that:

  • There is no capacity limit for all mask-on events that involve ≤1,000 pax.
  • For events with >1,000 pax, they will be subject to 50% capacity limit of the venue.

With this change, smaller settings such as religious services, business events, media conferences, funerary memorial events, solemnisations, wedding receptions, and mask-on classes can proceed, as long as they are mask-on and involve ≤1,000 pax. Zoning requirements will also be removed.

For large events and settings of more than 1,000 pax, these continue to pose greater infection risks, which is why they will be subject to a capacity limit of 50%. These will include attractions, cruises, MICE and large work-related events, as well as large performing arts venues and sports stadiums.

In a nutshell, the following are Singapore’s SMM 1–5:

singapore march smms

For a full list of events subject to capacity limit, i.e. >1,000 pax, click here.

6. Vaccination-differentiated SMMs (VDS)

From 15 March 2022, unvaccinated children aged 12 years and below (i.e. born in 2010 or later) need not be from the same household to be included within a group entering premises or participating in activities with VDS.

7. Resuming sports

From 15 March 2022, team sports will be allowed for up to 30 fully vaccinated persons (including players, coaches, umpires, etc.) at selected supervised/operated sports facilities (i.e. ActiveSG/PA facilities and SportSG-approved private facilities). The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) will progressively expand the number of venues in the coming weeks. 

Community SMMs will apply before and after the sport activity, and during rest breaks. No additional testing requirement will be imposed as long as all participants are fully vaccinated, but participants are strongly encouraged to self-test before arriving. Participants will be required to complete a health declaration form prior to the sports activity.

The relevant agencies will provide more details on the resultant requirements specific to their sectors.

8. Migrant workers: Dormitories, recreation centres, and community measures with SMMs in the Community

From 15 March 2022, Singapore's migrant workers (MWs) living in dormitories will be eligible for the same SMMs as for the rest of the community, which means they will be allowed to use sports facilities, gather in allowed group sizes, and be part of events in dormitories and recreation centres - as long as community SMMs are being followed at all times.

What will remain in place, however, is restrictions on the ability of vaccinated MWs to visit the community safely, albeit the quota has been increased. From 15 March 2022, up to 15,000 vaccinated MWs will be allowed to visit the community on weekdays, and up to 30,000 on weekends and public holidays, for up to eight hours per visit. This is a significant increase from the current quotas of 3,000 on weekdays, and 6,000 for weekends and public holidays.

For this process, MWs will continue to apply to visit their selected locations in the community. MOM will monitor the application numbers and continue to conduct regular checks at potential congregation hotspots.

9. Booster dose

From 14 March 2022, persons who are aged 12–17 years who have completed their vaccination course and are eligible for booster vaccination will be considered as fully vaccinated for only 270 days after the last dose in their primary vaccination series. Thus, all eligible 12–17 year-olds will require a booster dose to maintain their vaccinated status.

10. Border measures

Given that imported infection numbers have stayed very low (around 1% of total daily infections), Singapore is switching to an unsupervised self-swab Antigen Rapid Test (ART) within 24 hours of entry for all incoming visitors on the General Category (Vaccinated Travel Lane, or VTL) and Category I travellers entering Singapore from 14 March 2022, 2359 hours. This will replace the previous requirement for a supervised self-swab ART.

Thus, VTL and Category I travellers must report their unsupervised self-swab ART test result via sync.gov.sg before proceeding with their activities in Singapore.

Click here for the full list of border measures for travellers arriving from 14 March 2022, 2359h.


All photos and images / MOH

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