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Starting Monday, 12 July: WFH remains default in Singapore, but social gatherings allowed at the workplace with a 5-pax limit

Starting Monday, 12 July: WFH remains default in Singapore, but social gatherings allowed at the workplace with a 5-pax limit

Once at least 50% of Singapore’s population is fully vaccinated, the ministry will look at allowing more employees to return to the workplace.

Starting Monday (12 July), although more activities will be allowed to resume overall; for employers, work-from-home (WFH) will continue to remain the default arrangement as Singapore transitions through Phase Three (Heightened Alert), the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Wednesday (7 July 2021).

This measure, the ministry explained, is “to reduce overall interaction within workplaces and on public transport.” MOH added: “Employers are reminded to ensure the practice continues, and for employees that need to come to the workplace, to stagger their start times and implement flexible working hours.”

Employers should note that interns, part-time staff, etc. who are under a contract of service are also employees, as defined by MOH.

What's new in this update is that social and recreational gatherings at the workplace will be allowed effective 12 July, but must be limited to a total size of no more than five persons in line with the broader community rules. Further, F&B will be allowed at work-related events but should be avoided as far as possible, per Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) update.

Read the full set of requirements for safe management measures at the workplace here.

Once at least 50% of Singapore’s population is fully vaccinated, however, the ministry said that more employees may be allowed to return to the workplace “based on the percentage of total employees who are fully vaccinated.”

Other activities that will allowed from Monday, 12 July are the following:

  • Dine-in: Groups of up to five persons will be able to dine-in at F&B establishments. Patrons are to adhere to social distancing measures and keep masks on at all times except when eating or drinking.
  • Wedding receptions: This may resume with no more than 250 persons allowed with Pre-Event Testing (PET). For wedding receptions with 50 persons or less, PET will be required for the wedding party only.
  • Indoor mask-off sports/exercise activities: Gyms and fitness studios may conduct indoor mask-off sports/exercise activities in group sizes of up to five persons, similar to indoor mask-on and outdoor activities. Sports and exercise classes can continue in groups of no more than five persons, in classes of up to 50 persons including the instructor, or the capacity limit of the venue, whichever is lower.

What happens when 50% of Singapore’s population is fully vaccinated?

Should Singapore achieve its benchmark of 50% of the population completing its full vaccination regimen by end-July, restrictions will be further loosened, according to the Ministry of Health. For instance:

  • Social gathering group sizes may increase to eight persons;
  • For activities/venues such as cinemas, congregational worship, MICE events, live performances, spectator sports and wedding solemnisations, the group size could be doubled if they are attended by fully vaccinated persons, i.e. up to 500 persons may be allowed;
  • For higher-risk, indoor mask-off activities (e.g. F&B dine-in), guidelines could be differentiated, as in fully-vaccinated persons may be allowed a group size of eight persons. Otherwise, the group size will remain at five persons.

For reference, MOH has defined “fully vaccinated individuals” as those who would have received both doses of Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty or Moderna vaccine, with an additional two weeks after the second dose for optimal protection. Recovered individuals would also qualify as they would have developed immunity against the virus.

On this, MOH added: “We are mindful about those who are still unvaccinated or are medically ineligible for the two mRNA vaccines, including children 12 years and below. We are considering separate provisions for this group, e.g. allow them to qualify based on a pre-event test, or allow children to qualify, but up to a limit.”

“Further details on the above measures and other changes will be announced nearer the implementation date,” MOH informed.

Other Phase Three (HA) updates

Targeted support measures

In its previous announcement, the government introduced the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) for affected sectors from 16 May to 11 July 2021.

With the gradual resumption of more economic and community activities, the ministry highlighted, JSS support for these affected sectors will be tapered to 10% for two weeks from 12 to 25 July 2021.

Updates to testing staff involved in higher-risk activities

“We had earlier announced a progressive roll-out of Fast and Easy Tests (FETs) for staff in higher-risk settings.

“Since then, we have been working with the businesses to commence FET Rostered Routine Testing (RRT) via Employer-Supervised Self Swab or at Quick Test Centres,” MOH shared.

Further to the announcement, MOH informed that from 15 July 2021, FET RRT will be made mandatory for all staff in the following higher-risk settings:

  • Dine-in F&B establishments;
  • Personal care services (e.g., facial and nail services, spas/ saunas, massage establishments, hairdressing, and make-up services); and
  • Gyms and fitness studios where clients are unmasked.

Increased access to ART test kits

From 16 July 2021, the sale of over-the-counter Antigen Rapid Tests (ARTs) self-test kits will be expanded to more general retailers like supermarkets and convenience stores, the ministry said.

The purchase limit of 10 per individual will also be lifted.

“With this, more individuals, particularly those who do not have acute respiratory infection symptoms, can test themselves if they are concerned about potential exposure to COVID-19,” the ministry explained.

In conclusion, the Ministry highlighted: “Any further steps towards reopening and a Singapore with endemic COVID-19 will only be possible when more of our population is protected through vaccination.”

Image / Pexels

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