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Safe distancing no longer required when masks are on from Feb 25; household visitors cap eased to 5 at any time

SINGAPORE — From next Friday (Feb 25), the maximum number of unique visitors per household will be adjusted from five persons a day to five persons at any one time.

Safe distancing no longer required when masks are on from Feb 25; household visitors cap eased to 5 at any time
  • Updated Covid-19 rules will apply to group sizes, mask wearing, workplace requirements, safe distancing and event capacity limits
  • They will take effect from Feb 25
  • MOH said they are being changed to make them simpler to understand and for people to comply to them
  • The rostered routine testing regime will also only apply to people working in settings catering to the vulnerable

SINGAPORE — From next Friday (Feb 25), the maximum number of unique visitors per household will be adjusted from five persons a day to five persons at any one time.

Safe distancing will also no longer be required between individuals or groups when they have their masks on, including at the workplace.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said this on Wednesday as it announced an update on current Covid-19 rules to make them “simpler to understand and (for people to) comply with (them)”.

The updated regulations, which will come into effect from Feb 25, will be focusing on five measures that MOH described as the most “important and effective”.

1. Group sizes

The permissible maximum group size for social gatherings remains at five individuals.

2. Mask-wearing

There will be no changes to mask wearing and it will continue to be required as a default.

3. Workplace requirements

In the workplace, employees who have their masks on will no longer need to maintain the 1m safe distancing rule.

MOH said that it will not change the current advisory of allowing up to 50 per cent of employees who can work from home to return to the office.

Social gatherings at workplaces will be allowed to resume with up to five persons for each gathering.

There will be no restrictions on cross-deployment of employees across workplaces, although employers “may continue to do so for business continuity reasons”, MOH added.

4. Safe distancing

Safe distancing will continue to be encouraged, but will not be required between individuals or groups in all mask-on settings, MOH said.

However, safe distancing will continue to be required for all mask-off settings.

Where safe distancing is required, the distance will be streamlined to a single safe distance of 1m for all settings.

5. Capacity limits

As for events, MOH said that it will no longer be fixing size limits for various event types.

Rather, it will set event sizes based on the capacity of the venue.

It will therefore be lifting specific event size limits for events such as religious services, business events, media conferences, funerary memorial events, wedding receptions and mask-on classes from March 4.

Zoning requirements will also be removed, since the main protection is through masks and vaccinations, MOH added.

However, for large events and settings that pose more infection risks, the authorities will still impose capacity limits as a precaution.

These will include attractions, cruises, large work-related events, large performing arts venues or sports stadiums, as well as meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (Mice).

For other settings such as malls and large standalone stores, the current density limit of 10 sqm per person roughly translates to a 50 per cent capacity, too.

Therefore, there will be a threshold of 1,000 individuals in such a scenario.

What this means is that for smaller settings or events with 1,000 people or fewer, the event may proceed without being subject to any capacity limit.

Otherwise, for larger settings or events with more than 1,000 masked individuals, they will be subject to a capacity limit of 50 per cent.

If people are not wearing their masks, they will be required to comply with the 1m safe distancing requirement and prevailing group size. This will already serve to limit capacity, MOH said.

Speaking during a press conference by the national Covid-19 task force, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said that with the new rules, the Government will "no longer forbid practices that do not make a material difference to the pandemic, but which we are observing very strictly".

For instance, as long as people are masked, there is no longer a need to allow only alternate seats at park benches, he said.

"Or the urinals in the men's toilets. The men will know sometimes that alternate ones are crossed out, which are not necessary so long as you're wearing your mask." 

He said that this will also apply to groups of people hoping to take photographs — they will no longer need to stand 1m apart, if they are masked.

"I think all these little things really don't matter anymore and we can do away with them. Our people know we are in a crisis, and we can start to remove these little daily reminders that are not material anymore," Mr Ong said.

ROSTERED ROUTINE TESTING

The rostered routine testing regime, which was first introduced in foreign worker dormitories and higher-risk workplaces in August 2020, will also undergo some changes.

From Friday (Feb 18) onwards, it will now focus only on:

  • On settings catering to vulnerable groups such as the healthcare and eldercare sector
  • On settings with children below the age of five
  • On selected essential services sectors

Other than the above, sectors that have been carrying out routine testing will “no longer be required to continue testing” from Friday onwards.

Explaining the reasons for the change, MOH said that the routine testing exercise had served as an important part of Singapore’s strategy to facilitate early detection and containment of transmission in the community.

While testing continues to be an essential response to Covid-19, “we are in a different situation today and our testing strategy needs to evolve”.

As it is, Singapore’s high vaccination coverage and the roll-out of vaccine-related infection controls offer “good protection to the workforce from severe disease due to Covid-19”, the ministry said.

Moreover, the high transmissibility and shorter incubation period of the Omicron coronavirus strain have also meant a reduction in the effectiveness of routine testing in containing community transmission.

“Furthermore, we have shifted our focus towards protecting the vulnerable population and managing severe cases,” MOH added.

Related topics

Covid-19 safe distancing face mask Covid-19 testing events workplace

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