Five visitors at a time, social distancing not required in mask-on settings, and a few adjustments. Learn more about Singapore’s new rules on Covid-19 here.
In this article, you’ll read:
- Simplified Covid-19 rules for gatherings and travel
- Updated protocols for close contacts of Covid-19 cases
- Are team sports now allowed?
Last February the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that safe management measures – with some tweaks – will continue to be implemented in the country when the Omicron wave is over.
The ministry has been trying to simplify the rules for Covid-19 in Singapore to make them easier to understand and gradually adapt to future changes in the country’s pandemic situation.
However, due to the current surge of the Covid-19 cases brought about by the Omicron variant, the time to ease the restrictions is not yet now, as Singapore is still climbing the epidemic curve.
In February, Singapore saw its largest single-day spike in Covid-19 cases. A total of 19,420 cases were reported in the country.
“If Singapore is like many other countries that have gone through, or are going through the Omicron wave, in a few weeks, cases will come down – perhaps even quite dramatically,” said MOH minister Ong Ye Kung in a press conference last February 16.
“And then we will be in a position to ease travel rules, as well as our domestic safe management measures,” he added.
While Singapore is still experiencing the surge of new cases after the Chinese New Year, the ministry has decided to tweak and simplify Covid-19 rules for its citizens and residents.
However, the streamlined laws that were supposed to take effect last February have been postponed due to the previous surge of Covid-19 cases in the country.
Now that the Omicron wave has waned and the numbers are falling, these simplified safety measures will be implemented starting March 15, Tuesday.
Simplified Covid-19 rules in Singapore
5 visitors in a household at any given time.
According to MOH, the permissible group size for social gatherings remains at five people. However, starting March 15, the maximum number of unique visitors per household will be adjusted from five persons per day, to five persons at any one time.
Social distancing is encouraged, but not in mask-on settings.
Safe distancing will still be encouraged, but not required in between individuals or groups in all mask-on settings from March 15 onwards. Meanwhile, safe distancing is still required with a distance of at least 1 meter in all mask-off settings.
Safe management measures on wearing masks and in the workplace.
The current rule of 50 per cent capacity in the office will still be implemented, but for employees in mask-on settings, safe distancing will not be required. Workplace social gatherings can resume, with a limit of five persons for each social gathering. This new rule starts on March 15 as well.
Simplified safe management measures in public places.
Rules will also be made more simple in public spaces, according to MOH.
“We no longer forbid practices that actually do not make a material difference to the pandemic but which we are observing strictly,” said the minister.
According to him, as long as people are wearing masks, there’s no need to cross out alternate seats and benches, or urinals in men’s toilets.
Reading items like newspapers and magazines can be placed in common areas. Hairdryers in public showers can be used as long as proper hygiene is observed.
Barbecue pits will remain open so long as people gather together and socialise according to the group limit required.
“You don’t have to divide guests into zones or weddings so long as they keep to their group sizes and do not mingle across tables,” added Minister Ong.
School assemblies will also no longer be restricted to 30 minutes, which is currently the rule.
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Vaccinated Travel Lane (land) between Singapore and Malaysia will be restored.
In December, the Ministry of Trade and Industry temporarily halved the Vaccinated Travel Lane ( VTL) between Singapore to Malaysia to delay the onset of Omicron transmission.
But on last February, they announced that the quota will be reinstated from February 22, to allow 2,160 travellers a day – equivalent to 48 bus trips. Sales for the additional bus tickets will start immediately.
But to ensure the safety of all travellers, they would still need to take a supervised self-swab antigen rapid test (ART) upon arrival at the bus terminal.
Sports will resume with up to 30 fully vaccinated persons at selected venues.
Great news to sports enthusiasts! Starting March 15, MOH has allowed all sports will to proceed with up to 30 fully vaccinated persons – including players, coaches and umpires – at supervised or operated sports facilities such as ActiveSG facilities and approved private facilities.
No additional testing requirements will be imposed, but participants are still strongly encouraged to self-test before arriving at the venue and observe the current safety measures that are being implemented.
Image source: iStock
Changes in the protocol for close contacts of Covid-19 cases.
Previously, close contacts of Covid-19 positive cases identified by MOH were issued with a seven-day health risk warning. This imposes them to undergo an ART-based daily self-testing regime should they wish to leave home.
But close contacts aren’t always easy to identify, thus, they were not issued a warning, said MOH.
So from this point, the protocol was changed from an order to an advisory, with a health risk notice replacing the warning for identified close contacts.
Those issued with the notice may continue to obtain their ART test kits through designated vending machines and facilitate their self-testing during the monitoring period.
From seven days, the recommended self-monitoring period will be reduced to five.
In-person visits to hospitals and residential care homes remain suspended.
In-person visits to hospital wards and residential care homes will be further suspended to protect healthcare capacity and vulnerable groups, according to MOH.
However, hospitals and homes have the discretion to allow visits for exceptional cases, such as if the patient or resident is critically ill.
After the four-week suspension, it will be reviewed and checked if it is safe to resume the in-person visits.
In relation to this, eligible nursing home residents with Covid-19 are allowed to recover in their homes.
Rostered routine testing regime will be streamlined.
Workers in public sectors, such as those working at the airport, seaport, malls, restaurants, hawker centres etc. will not be required to perform rostered routine testing regime (RRT).
Instead, the MOH chose to focus only on settings catering to vulnerable groups such as the healthcare sector, eldercare sector, settings with children below age five and selected essential services sectors.
“It is better that we switch to a regime where people are advised to be very vigilant and very considerate.
If unwell, immediately take an ART test. Make sure you are tested negative before you go out and especially if you are meeting someone vulnerable,” said Minister Ong.
“We will therefore stand down the requirement for weekly RRT for most workers.
But, we will retain RRT as a precaution for some sectors, namely healthcare, eldercare and pre-school, because these are the three sectors where workers continue to meet vulnerable persons, namely seniors as well as unvaccinated children,” he added.
Should the situation of the pandemic change, these parameters will be tightened or relaxed across the board. Trade and Industry minister Gan Kim Yong said the authorities will continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation closely.
“And when the situation improves and healthcare capacity permits, we will be able to take the next step in easing our safe management measures,” he said.