Singapore will exit the Circuit Breaker on 1 June, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced yesterday (19 May). Following this, from 2 June on, businesses will soon be allowed to resume activities in three phases. Not all businesses can resume work from the office on 2 June.
These three phases are as follows:
Phase One: Safe Re-opening
Selected businesses including aerospace, semiconductors, telecommunications and more may resume
As stated by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), during this phase, besides the businesses that have been operating as at 1 June, those operating in settings with lower transmission risks may resume activities.
- Most manufacturing and production facilities such as those in the semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, medical technology, precision engineering, and energy & chemicals sectors.
- Most businesses with employees working in offices or settings that do not require interactions with large groups of people, such as those in finance & insurance, wholesale trade, health & social services, IT & info services, professional services as well as logistics and storage.
- Additional consumer services will be permitted to resume - motor vehicle servicing, aircon servicing as well as basic pet services.
- Hairdressers and barbers will be allowed to offer all hairdressing services, beyond the basic haircut services. To support the re-opening of schools, school bookshops and retail shops selling school uniforms can also resume activities.
- With the exception of those that have already been given approval to operate, all retail outlets have to remain closed until further notice.
The full list of permitted services can be accessed here, and in the infographic below:
Employers are encouraged to adopt telecommuting to the maximum extent; employees who have been working from home thus far should continue doing so, and only come into office when "demonstrably needed", the Ministry added. For instance, when they require access to specialised systems/equipment that cannot be accessed from home or to complete a contract or transaction that is legally required to be completed in person and on-site.
Commenting on this, Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong said the country can expect to be in Phase One for "a few weeks", and everyone will need to be patient and disciplined throughout the phase.
He added: "I can understand that we have been in the circuit breaker for some time. People have been disciplined so far but the feeling of being cooped up at home for a long period is starting to take its effect on people; and, there is a very strong desire to go out, to socialise, (and) to interact with your friends. But I hope we can all maintain our discipline for a while longer."
The MTI also highlighted that this scheduled resumption of business activities will ultimately depend on Singapore's health situation. Should community transmission rise, it will re-evaluate the timeline and businesses that can resume operations from 2 June.
Lastly and importantly, all businesses must implement safe management measures before resuming their workplace activities, in order to provide a safe working environment and prevent transmission at the workplace.
Phase Two: Safe Transition
Most firms may re-open, but work-from-home should still be in place where possible.
With Phase One in place, if community transmission rates remain low and stable, and the dormitory situation remains under control, Singapore can then move into Phase Two, with the gradual resumption of more activities.
- More firms and businesses, beginning with F&B dine-in and retail outlets, gyms and fitness studios, and tuition and enrichment centres, will gradually be allowed to re-open. This is subject to safe management measures being implemented and practised by employers and employees, and their ability to also maintain a safe environment for their customers.
- Sports, recreation and outdoor facilities will also start to re-open, subject to safe management practices for both facility staff and users being in place.
- If the situation permits, all students may fully return to school, and institutes of higher learning will increase the number of students on campus at any one time for face-to-face learning.
While this is so, employers should still ensure that employees who can work from home continue to do so.
Phase Three: Safe Nation
A new normal begins, and will be expected until an effective COVID-19 vaccine/treatment is developed.
Keeping an eye on the COVID-19 situation and on a risk assessment, the Government will continue to ease measures gradually until the nation reaches a "new normal", in Phase Three. The country is expected to then remain in this phase until an effective vaccine or treatment for COVID-19 has been developed.
- Social, cultural, religious and business gatherings or events would have resumed this time, although gathering sizes would still have to be limited in order to prevent large clusters from arising.
- Seniors would have been able to resume day-to-day activities while practising safe distancing measures and avoiding peak period travel, crowded places and large groups.
- Services and activities that involve significant prolonged close contact (e.g. spas and massage places) or significant crowd management risk in an enclosed space (e.g. cinemas, theatres, bars, pubs and nightclubs) would also have been allowed to re-open, subject to their ability to implement strict safe management measures effectively.
Everything employers and businesses should take note of when resuming workplace activities
The Government has highlighted the following points to note when employers and businesses are preparing to return to the office:
Employers are required to implement a system of safe management measures that will protect their employees and strengthen the resilience of their businesses to any further disruptions.
- This includes implementation of work-from-home arrangements, staggered working hours, shift or split-team arrangements, safe distancing, regular disinfection of common touchpoints and equipment, provision of cleaning and disinfecting agents, and avoiding physical meetings (both business and social).
- Monitor their employees’ health and have evacuation and follow-up plans in the event of a confirmed case.
- Appoint Safe Management Officers to implement this system of measures, which can also be found on the Ministry of Manpower's website.
- Where relevant, businesses should adhere to the sector-specific requirements released by the respective agencies. They should ensure that their workers stay safe by avoiding activities with close and prolonged contact, and ensure that they do not socialise and congregate in groups at the workplace, including at common spaces, and during meals and break times.
Employees should do their part by adhering to these safe management measures at and outside workplaces, such as by avoiding socialising outside the workplace. Where possible, businesses are encouraged to leverage technology to assist in the implementation of safe management measures, and should also continue to act responsibly, and not plan or organise events that could draw large numbers of employees or customers.
Apart from the above, for employees with school-going children, you may refer to the following two releases from the Early Childhood Development Agency, and the Ministry of Education, for details of school resumption.
- Phased reopening of preschools and early intervention centres from 2 June 2020
- Arrangements for schools and Institutes of Higher Learning at the end of Circuit Breaker
Lead image / Ministry of Communications and Information
[From L:R Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade and Industry (on screen); Kenneth Mak, Director of Medical Services; Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Health; and Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance.]
Infographics / Ministry of Health