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Govt orders immediate suspension of all mass events, among stricter ‘safe distancing’ measures rolled out

SINGAPORE — With immediate effect until June 30, all events and gatherings of 250 or more participants must be suspended, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Friday (March 20). The stricter social distancing measures are to reduce the risk of further transmission of Covid-19 here.

Govt orders immediate suspension of all mass events, among stricter ‘safe distancing’ measures rolled out

With immediate effect until June 30, all events and gatherings of 250 or more participants must be suspended.

SINGAPORE — With immediate effect until June 30, all events and gatherings of 250 or more participants must be suspended, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Friday (March 20). The stricter social distancing measures are to reduce the risk of further transmission of Covid-19 here.

These include guidelines on how workplaces and public venues such as restaurants and museums should implement measures to ensure that workers and patrons are always a metre apart from one another, and an extension of the suspension of senior-centric activities by government agencies.

Speaking at a media briefing on Friday, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong acknowledged that these are very stringent and far-reaching measures, but added: “We cannot continue with business as usual.

“We don’t want to see crowded venues, packed event halls. We should see more people working from home, more people ordering takeaway and eating at home. And all this means a major change in daily routines and daily lives.

“We need Singaporeans to co-operate and we will be enforcing these rules. They will lead to some inconvenience, but we need Singaporeans to co-operate and take responsibility for these changes. If we are disciplined about this, it will enable us to take better control of this situation and suppress and slow down the virus.”

Here is a closer look at the measures.

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SUSPENSION OF BIG EVENTS AND GATHERINGS

The latest announcement — that until June 30, all events and gatherings of 250 or more participants must be suspended — is an expansion of the previous requirement for ticketed cultural, sports and entertainment events to be limited to fewer than 250 participants.

At the time this requirement was announced, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said the decision to set the bar at a “reasonable number” of 250 participants is a judgment call.

The temporary ban on such events will also apply to weddings and religious gatherings, Mr Wong said.

For events and gatherings with fewer than 250 participants, organisers and event venue operators are required to implement the necessary precautionary measures to ensure a separation of at least a metre between participants.

This would mean having seats spaced 1m apart and the reduced mingling of participants, for example, during mealtimes.

These events and gatherings must also comply with existing guidance, such as improving ventilation, putting in place temperature and health screening measures and turning away those who are unwell.

PUBLIC VENUES

Operators of venues that are accessible to the public are now required to implement the necessary measures to ensure 1m of space between patrons. For example:

  • Queues such as those outside restaurants and shops should be fast-moving. This could be done by ensuring all checkout counters are open and encouraging patrons to use self-checkout counters to minimise contact with counter staff members. Operators are also encouraged to demarcate queues to ensure patrons are standing 1m apart from each other.

  • Food-and-beverage venues should maintain a distance of at least 1m between tables and between seats. Where seats are fixed, such as at hawker centres, operators should ensure alternate seats are marked out. Individuals and family members who wish to sit together can continue to do so but should maintain a safe distance from other groups.

  • Entertainment venues and attractions such as cinemas, museums, theme parks, galleries, casinos and theatres should adopt measures appropriate to their venue to ensure separation of at least 1m between patrons. This could include reducing operating capacity to provide more spacing, installing floor markers at queueing areas and adopting chequerboard or alternate seating.

Speaking at the media briefing, Mr Wong said that these measures are not optional but mandatory and will be enforced through the licensing regime.

WORKPLACES

Employers are also encouraged to implement measures to reduce close physical interactions among employees. All employers should facilitate telecommuting so their staff members can work from home, and teleconferencing should be used in place of physical meetings wherever possible.

For employees in jobs where telecommuting is not feasible, employers should take the following precautions:

  • Staggered working hours: Employers should have staggered working hours, for both reporting and ending times, with a minimum of three one-hourly blocks and no more than half of total employees reporting to work within each one-hour block. Where possible, reporting and ending times should not coincide with peak-hour travel, especially if employees need to use public transport.

  • Reduce the duration and proximity of physical interactions: Employers should provide for physical spacing of at least 1m between workstations. If there is a need for physical meetings, the number of attendees should be limited and the duration shortened. Seats in meeting rooms should also be spaced at least 1m apart.

  • Defer non-critical events and scale down critical work events: For critical work events that cannot be deferred, employers must limit these to no more than 250 participants at any point in time and put in place measures to ensure separation of at least 1m between participants. These include meals and mingling during the event.

MORE SAFE-DISTANCING MEASURES FOR SENIORS

The suspension of senior-centric activities run by government agencies will be extended for another two weeks until April 7.

All activities that involve physical interactions among seniors should be suspended from March 22 to April 7 as well, MOH said.

These include senior-centric courses, activities and interest groups as well as events, performances and other gatherings targeted at seniors.

Organisers of such events should also put in place extra precautionary measures in preparation for the resumption of these activities after April 7.

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus MOH events social distancing

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