Singapore Returns to Phase 2: New Covid-19 Social Distancing Rules You Need to Know
This story was first updated on May 4, 2021, and updated on May 5, 2021.
On April 27, Singapore announced that a Covid-19 cluster had surfaced in Tan Tock Seng Hospital after a nurse was infected. It was later found that there were likely infections in a doctor and three other patients in a general ward.
As of May 4, there are now 40 cases linked to the Tan Tock Seng Hospital cluster as testing and attempts to contain the spread continue. The Government has also announced that with effect from May 8, social gatherings will be reduced from groups of eight people to five as Singapore tightens Covid-19 measures. This will remain till May 30. Similarly, households can only receive five distinct visitors per day.
These new measures will thus take Singapore back to Phase 2 of its reopening for a few weeks, said co-chair of the Covid-19 multi-ministry task force Lawrence Wong, at a press conference on May 8.
As Singapore sees an uptick in the number of community cases, more regulations have been introduced to curb the spread of the virus. Not sure what the new rules are? We break them down for you below.
1/8 Singaporeans have been urged to limit social gatherings
While this is not a hard and fast rule, the government has strongly urged citizens to have no more than two special gatherings per day in an attempt to limit the risk of spreading the virus.
This includes visiting another household or a public place.
You are also only allowed to gather in groups of five and have five visitors at household. This is down from eight people.
2/8 Work from home as far as possible
It was only on March 24 that the government announced that more employees would be allowed to return to the workplace and that split team arrangement would no longer be mandatory. The rules came into effect on April 5.
However, due to the sudden increase in cases, the government has recommended that employers should allow their staff to work from home as far as possible and should limit social gatherings in the workplace.
Under the new rules, only 50 per cent of employees who are able to work from home should be in the office at any one time. This is down from 75 per cent.
Employers are also advised to continue to stagger the start times of employees who need to return to the workplace.
3/8 Certain malls and attractions will have their occupancy reduced
Between May 1 and May 14, malls and large standalone stores will have their occupancies reduced to one person per 10 sq m of gross floor area. This is down from one person per 8 sq m.
Malls such as Lucky Plaza and Peninsula Plaza will also see their odd and even date entry restrictions resume. So far, these restrictions have been effective in that these malls have seen significantly fewer crowds.
Attractions around Singapore will also be affected from May 7 to May 14. All attractions that currently have approval from the government to operate at 65 per cent of their capacity will have to reduce this to 50 per cent.
Tour sizes will also be reduced from 50 to 20 attendees.
(Related: Further Covid-19 Vaccination Rounds May Need to Take Place in Singapore)
4/8 Religious services, weddings, funerals and other events will see more restrictions
The new regulations that have been set by the government will affect congregational worship services, weddings and funerals till May 30.
Congregational services that have more than 100 people will have to implement pre-event testing. They will also have a cap of 250 people with singing no longer allowed.
If you are planning to have a wedding this month, take note that solemnisations which include 250 attendees including the couple but excluding the solemniser and vendors, will be allowed to proceed. Guests should be split into zones of 50 each. Pre-event testing will be required for the wedding couple in gatherings of more than 50 people.
(Related: #Tatlergram: Prince William and Kate Middleton Celebrate Their 10th Wedding Anniversary)
Wedding receptions with up to 250 guests will also be allowed to continue in zones or time slots with up to 50 guests at each time. However, all receptions that involve over 50 guests will have to implement pre-event testing for everyone involved.
Funerals will also see new restrictions with the cap on attendees on the day of burial or cremation being reduced from 50 to 30.
Additionally, live performances, pilot business-to-business events and cinemas will see their max attendees reduced from 750 to 250. All events that will have over 100 attendees will need to have pre-event testing in place.
5/8 Indoor gyms and fitness studios will close
All indoor gyms and fitness studios will be closed till May 30. This is because they are considered high-risk environments.
However, outdoor organised exercise programmes or classes will be allowed to continue. Class sizes should be capped at 30 people.
6/8 Compulsory Tracetogether check-ins will begin on May 17
Earlier this year, the government announced that as of June 1, Tracetogether token or app check-ins would be mandatory at shopping malls, offices, schools, places of worship and other venues with higher traffic.
Due to the increase in cases, this will be implemented earlier. From May 17, you will need to use your Tracetogether app or token to check into places.
Other modes of Safeentry check-in which include scanning a Safeentry QR code or using the Singpass app will be discontinued from that day as well.
(Related: Tracetogether to Become Mandatory at Malls, Workplaces and Schools From June 1)
7/8 Some public spaces will be closed or have their occupancy reduced
From May 1, outdoor barbeque pits and campsites in parks, HDB estates, condominiums and country clubs will be closed to the public.
Libraries and museums around the country will also have their occupancies reduced from 65 per cent to 50 per cent.
8/8 Hospitals will be deferring all non-essential procedures
Take note if you are planning to visit a hospital for an appointment, procedure or for a visit to the emergency department. As a result of the cluster, Tan Tock Seng Hospital has progressively stopped admitting new patients.
This means that all Singapore Civil Defence Force ambulance cases will be diverted to other public and private hospitals for now.
The Ministry of Health has also announced that people should only visit the emergency department for emergency or life-threatening conditions. You should also expect longer waiting times as hospitals around the country direct resources to support Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
(Related: Covid-19 Vaccine: You Can Now Choose Between Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna in Singapore)
Hospitals in Singapore have also been asked to defer non-urgent specialist outpatient clinic appointments and non-urgent elective cases.
Hospitals have also introduced entry restrictions on all who have been to Tan Tock Seng Hospital's inpatient wards from April 18 onwards. The move includes all patients, caregivers and visitors.
Currently, if a person has been to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, they will either be reviewed through teleconsultation or in a separate room away from other patients.
Non-urgent cases may be postponed for at least two weeks from the time they last visited Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
That said, hospitals will not deny anyone medical care should they need it so please do still visit a hospital if you really need to.
(Related: The European Union is Planning to Open Borders to Vaccinated Tourists in June 2021)