Singapore’s decisive move towards living with COVID-19
Singapore – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gave a national update in a live broadcast on the COVID-19 situation on March 24, 2022. He laid out the major changes to both domestic and cross-border measures.
“Our fight against COVID-19 has reached a major turning point. We will be making a decisive move towards living with COVID-19.”, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
After more than 2 years of battling COVID-19, the Government has considered everything before easing the COVID-related restrictions, including mask-wearing, group and event sizes, return to workplaces, and cross-border restrictions starting on Tuesday (March 29).
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong providing updates on Singapore’s COVID-19 situation
Changes to Safe Management Measures (SMM)
The group size is raised to 10 people, initially from a group of five persons for mask-off activities. Furthermore, the maximum number of unique visitors per household is adjusted to 10 persons at any one time (from 5 persons).
Up to75% of employees who can work from home can return to their workplaces, an increase from the limit of 50%.
Wearing masks in indoor settings such as in office buildings, shopping malls, public transport (while commuting), hawker centres and coffee shops will continue to be required.
In outdoor settings such as in Housing Development Board (HDB) void decks, retail block walkways, bus stops, and bus interchanges, wearing a mask is optional.
Maintain safe distancing – one metre between groups for mask-off settings. Safe distancing is still encouraged but is optional for mask-on settings.
The capacity for larger events and settings with more than 1,000 people and on mask-on settings will increase to 75% (from 50%). For mask-off events and settings, one-metre safe distancing will still be applied.
Smaller events or settings with less than or equal to 1,000 people can proceed without being subject to any capacity limit.
Other Activity-Specific Adjustments
Dine at Food and Beverage (F&B) Establishments
A group of 10 vaccinated people will be allowed to dine in at F&B establishments such as hawker centres and coffee shops. These establishments must implement full vaccination-differentiated SMMs (VDS) checks at their entrances.
F&B establishments will be allowed to seat smaller groups of up to 5 fully vaccinated persons, with the need for VDS checks at their entrances, to ease the operational burden for F&B operators. Then, a random spot-check will be implemented in this situation.
The restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol after 10:30 pm will be lifted. F&B establishments are now allowed to sell alcohol after 10:30 p.m.
Live performances and screening of programmes
Live performances at all venues, including at the F&B establishments will be allowed to resume. Moreover, there will be a resumption of live outdoor performances and busking. There is a need to comply with the prevailing SMM 1-5 to those involved in the performance.
Furthermore, the restrictions on the screening of live broadcast programmes and recorded entertainment in F&B establishments will be lifted.
The following are allowed vocalisation activities by large groups and are subject to mask-wearing.
- Congregational singing and chanting;
- Cheering by audiences/spectators/participants at events; and
- Singing in general settings, including in schools.
Social events and larger-scale social gatherings
Large-scale gatherings such as gala dinners, corporate dinner-and-dance events (D&Ds), birthday celebrations and anniversaries will resume. The event organizers must comply with current SMM 1-5, which means that there will be only up to 10 people per table, and a one-metre safe distance must be maintained between tables.
Easing Travel Restrictions
Aside from outlining domestic COVID measures updates, Mr Lee provided an update to ease cross-border travel restrictions.
This move will help Singaporeans connect with the world, and much needed boosts to huskiness, particularly its tourism section. Additionally, it will help Singapore reclaim its position as a business and aviation hub.
“Earlier, we are cautious over Omicron’s impact. Now, Omicron’s situation is well under control. Nearly all our cases are domestic, originating within the community. Arrival from abroad constitutes only a very small proportion of cases. We can therefore safely open up our borders.” said Mr Lee.
They will drastically streamline the testing and quarantine requirements for travellers. It will simplify the Vaccinated Travel Framework. This will make Singaporeans travel abroad more easily – ‘almost like before COVID-19’.
Moreover, they will lift most restrictions for fully vaccinated visitors entering Singapore. There will be a quarantine-free and no need for VTL flights for fully vaccinated travellers, starting April 1, 2022.
In addition, there is no need for COVID-19 testing while staying in Singapore, only a pre-departure test is needed (within two (2) days before the trip).
On the other hand, they will remain watchful of the situation as COVID-19 may yet bring further surprises. They will maintain a measured approach that has served as well over the past two years.
Furthermore, if the situation continues to stabilise they will ease up further. But, as the future situation is unpredictable and may provide some twists, they may have to tighten again the restrictions.
Living with COVID-19
Mr Lee also said that “We cannot rule this out even though we hope it will not be necessary, but whatever happens, we now have the knowledge and the means to keep everyone safe.
For example, giving everyone another booster jab or administering an updated vaccine if necessary. So, please take this announcement in the right spirit. “
This time Singaporeans can resume more normal lives and enjoy gathering with family and friends. Moreover, they can go outdoors without masks or reunite with loved ones abroad.
However, Mr Lee reminded that each Singaporean still needs to play their parts. There is a need to comply with the revised SMMs that will take effect on March 29.