SINGAPORE - Masks will not be required in most indoor settings from Monday (Aug 29) as Singapore takes a significant step towards living with Covid-19. The Straits Times answers some of the questions readers may have on the easing of mask restrictions.
Q: Do I need to wear a mask in a taxi, private-hire vehicle, school bus or private bus? What if the driver wants me to do so?
A: Masks will not be required in taxis, private-hire vehicles and private buses from Aug 29. A taxi driver can ask a passenger to put on a mask, for instance, but there is no law to enforce it.
Q: Do I have to wear a mask if I go to a concert or a crowded event? What if I refuse to do so?
A: These details will have to be worked out by the event organiser. If masks are necessary for certain events, the organiser will have to look into stating the need clearly, for instance, on the tickets, under the terms and conditions.
Q: What if my employer wants me to put on a mask in the office?
A: At the workplace, if there are specific high-risk settings where employers would require staff to don masks, the need can be explained to employees. Given the high level of compliance in Singapore, it is unlikely that employees would object to putting on masks without a good reason.
Q: Do I need to wear a mask when I'm waiting for the bus or train?
A: Masks are required on public transport - MRT and LRT trains, and public buses. Masks also have to be worn when commuters are at indoor boarding areas of bus interchanges and at all train platforms.
Q What about on a plane?
A: From next Monday (Aug 29), Singapore Airline passengers will not be required to wear face masks on board flights, unless they are travelling to or from destinations that require a face mask. Those who wish to wear a face mask on board may still do so. Face masks are optional at Changi Airport.
Q: In the food and beverage (F&B) sector, what activities would require workers to put on masks/ spit guards?
A: Masks are needed during:
- The processing and preparation of ingredients, as well as cooking of food
- The packing of cooked and ready-to-eat food, as well as the handling of unsealed finished products, including produce sold in wet markets
- The dishing of cooked and ready-to-eat food before it is served to consumers
- The preparation of drinks
Masks are optional for:
- Waiters who serve food to diners
- Workers who deliver packed food to consumers
- Workers who clean tables and collect used utensils
- Cashiers and employees who collect payment from diners
Q: Why are face shields not allowed to be worn by food handlers?
A: Face shields have large gaps which allow droplets from the nose and mouth to fall through to contaminate food. Spit guards offer better protection as they have an impermeable plastic shield covering the chin.
Q: What will happen if a food handler does not comply with mask-wearing?
A: The Singapore Food Agency will take firm action against him. This includes having to pay a fine, or the cancellation or suspension of the food licence.
Q: What will happen to F&B workers who do not replace their masks or spit guards when they are dirty?
A: Food handlers with dirty attire will be taken to task under the relevant regulations.
Q: Singapore has been building up its capabilities in mask manufacturing, will such businesses be affected with masks no longer needed in most settings?
A: It is unlikely that demand for masks will fall drastically as masks are still required in some settings.
Though masks are now optional outdoors, many continue to wear them as they recognise that the pandemic is not over yet.
A good number of people will continue to wear masks, so mask producers need not be overly worried.