SINGAPORE – Larger groups of five people will be allowed to dine in at eateries from next Monday (July 12) as Singapore reopens further following an improvement in its Covid-19 situation.
Finance Minister Lawrence Wong announced on Wednesday (July 7) that wedding receptions for up to 250 will also be allowed with pre-event testing, while gyms and fitness studios can conduct indoor sports and exercise classes for up to 50 people.
Working from home will remain the default arrangement, though social and recreational gatherings at the workplace will be allowed for up to five people, he said at a virtual press conference by the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19.
Restrictions could be eased further if the situation remains stable and at least half of the population has been fully vaccinated – a milestone that Singapore expects to reach at the end of this month. Those who are fully vaccinated can expect to face less restrictions.
All eligible individuals in Singapore have now been offered vaccination. At the current rate, the task force expects half of the population to have two doses of vaccines around the week of July 26, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung.
Currently, about four in ten of Singapore’s population has been fully vaccinated, he added.
“Once we reach 50 per cent, it’ll be timely for us to have a more definitive roadmap to transit towards living with endemic Covid-19,” he said.
Mr Wong outlined several measures that the task force is considering.
The cap for social gatherings could be increased to eight. Separately, the crowd size could be doubled to 500 people for events such as cinema screenings, congregational worship, Mice (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions ) events, live performances, spectator sports and wedding solemnizations – if they are all fully vaccinated.
For higher risk activities in indoor settings that do not involve the wearing of masks like dining in at food and beverage outlets, the guidelines could be differentiated such that group sizes of up to eight people may be allowed for fully vaccinated people.
Otherwise, the group sizes will remain at five people, added MOH.
In this next phase, more workers may also be allowed to return to the workplace, based on the percentage of total employees who are fully vaccinated.
Mr Wong said these plans are part of a broader road map being worked out by the multi-ministry task force. “That roadmap will cover local measures within Singapore as well as travel related measures,” he said. “We hope all of this will once again encourage everyone to take up the vaccination, or to bring forward your appointments and get vaccinated earlier,” he added.
Last month, the multi-ministry task force announced that Singapore’s vaccination programme will be ramped up, allowing it to set a new target of having two-thirds of its population fully vaccinated by National Day, on Aug 9.
Following that, the country is expected to gradually transition to the new normal, where Covid-19 will be managed like other endemic diseases.
Mr Wong said there is a good public health basis for differentiated measures to apply to vaccinated people. “If you have been vaccinated, you get good protection against the infection and against severe illness and therefore, you don’t need to have such strict measures applied to a vaccinated person or to groups of vaccinated persons.”
He also said that there are still details to be worked out, as there are people who are still unvaccinated or not eligible for any of the mRNA vaccines, including children. “So we will have to work out what guidelines might apply for these groups of people.”
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