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Dining in allowed from June 21, but limited to 2 persons a table; 5-person cap stays for other social gatherings

SINGAPORE — Dining in at eateries will be allowed to resume with a maximum group size of two persons from next Monday (June 21), instead of up to five as announced before, owing to the “persistence” of undetected Covid-19 cases in the community.

Groups of people can be seated across multiple tables at eateries, at two persons for each table, only if they are from the same household. This takes effect from June 21, 2021.

Groups of people can be seated across multiple tables at eateries, at two persons for each table, only if they are from the same household. This takes effect from June 21, 2021.

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  • Dining out from June 21 will be for maximum of two people a table at eateries
  • Dining out for groups of up to five will resume mid-July subject to prevailing Covid-19 situation at the time
  • Groups of more than two not from the same household cannot be split across tables this upcoming period
  • The two-step reopening is to help "buy time" to speed up the nation’s vaccination programme

 

SINGAPORE — Dining in at eateries will be allowed to resume with a maximum group size of two persons from next Monday (June 21), instead of up to five as announced before, owing to the “persistence” of undetected Covid-19 cases in the community.  

The Government’s Covid-19 task force had previously said that groups of up to five might be allowed to dine out together from Monday if the Covid-19 situation remained under control.

But in its latest update on Friday, it said that this would be allowed for groups of up to five only from mid-July, “barring another superspreader event or big cluster”. The date will be announced later, it added. 

The cap of five persons for other social gatherings such as those at parks and other public areas, as well as the five-person visitor limit to homes, will remain.

There will also still be a cap of two social gatherings a day.

However, those taking part in indoor mask-off sports or exercise activities such as at gyms must observe a two-person cap.

Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the task force, had cautioned earlier this week that the authorities were evaluating the "timing and scope" of the next stage of Singapore’s reopening, given a major new cluster in Bukit Merah.

On Friday, nine new Covid-19 cases were linked to a cluster at 115 Bukit Merah View Market and Food Centre, bringing the total for that cluster to 65 cases. 

The task force said on Friday that groups of more than two persons who are not from the same household will be barred from dining in at food-and-beverage (F&B) establishments, even if they are split across tables. 

Mr Wong said that groups of more than two from the same household may sit across multiple tables, “but they have to make very clear that they are from the same household”. 

Recorded music will not be allowed at eateries, to mitigate the risk of transmission as patrons may otherwise have to talk loudly. 

This is in addition to existing restrictions on videos or television screening and live entertainment at F&B establishments. 

F&B outlets must also maintain a distance of at least 1m between groups of diners and ensure that there are no more than two persons a group. 

The Ministry of Health said: “Enforcement will be stepped up and we will take firmer enforcement action for any breaches of safe-management measures. 

“Patrons must keep their masks on at all times, except when eating or drinking.” 

‘BUYING TIME’ TO SPEED UP VACCINATION PROGRAMME

Asked during a press conference why the reopening has been calibrated to a group size capped at two people, Mr Wong said that they had received a range of views and feedback and found that there are generally two schools of thought.

One school of thought is that the reopening should be pushed back to a much later date, until case numbers are near zero consistently for many days.

“But this is very hard to achieve and may not even be possible to do so, given how transmissible that Delta variant is,” Mr Wong said, referring to the coronavirus strain that was first detected in India.

He added that should the authorities go with this approach, it would mean that restrictive measures would be in place for many months, which would cause many businesses to fold, and so it is “not a very realistic option”.

The second school of thought is that the authorities should proceed to relax measures and not “overreact to each and every new cluster” since Covid-19 is set to be endemic and vaccinations are already being rolled out.

“I can understand the sentiments behind this and indeed we do want to proceed with our reopening more confidently,” he said. “But our vaccination rates currently are still not high enough to provide sufficient protection.”

Forty-nine per cent of residents have been vaccinated with the first dose, and 35 per cent are fully vaccinated, he said.

Vaccination rates for vulnerable groups such as seniors are “certainly above 60 per cent”, but this is still not high enough, especially among people aged above 70.

“We would like it to be much higher in order to protect our vulnerable groups,” Mr Wong added.

“So if we were to ease our restrictions too early, big clusters can easily break out and overwhelm us, and result in higher hospitalisation and even mortality for the vulnerable groups,” he said. “That's exactly what we are worried about.”

This is why the authorities are not adopting either approach, he said, and are “treading a very careful path forward based on a rigorous assessment of our current situation”.

“And hence, we have decided to break up the reopening into two steps, and our main objective with this stage (of) reopening is to buy time so that we can continue to speed up our vaccination programme,” he added.

SUPPORT SCHEMES

In light of the continued restrictions for businesses such as gyms and F&B outlets, enhancements to the Jobs Support Scheme — which provide affected sectors with up to 50 per cent wage support — will be extended by three weeks from June 21.

The support will taper to 10 per cent for another two weeks from July 12. 

To support hawkers who are self-employed, the Government will extend subsidies for fees for table cleaning and centralised dishwashing services. 

There will also be rental waivers until mid-July for stallholders in hawker centres run by the National Environment Agency (NEA) or NEA-appointed operators. 

For workers who remain affected by the measures, the Government will extend the Covid-19 Recovery Grant (Temporary) until July 31. The grant provides one-off financial support for lower- to middle-income workers.

Existing grant recipients who continue to require help may also apply for a second tranche of support next month. 

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus social gathering F&B dining vaccination

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