askST: Can I join my colleagues for lunch when we return to the office?

All social and recreational gatherings like lunches and team-bonding activities within or outside the workplace must adhere to the limit of eight people.
All social and recreational gatherings like lunches and team-bonding activities within or outside the workplace must adhere to the limit of eight people.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 announced on Wednesday (March 24) that more restrictions will be eased as Singapore moves forward with its vaccination programme and continues to keep the pandemic under control.

From April 5, up to 75 per cent of a firm's staff can return to the workplace at any one time, up from the current 50 per cent.

Working from home will no longer be the default as workplaces move towards a more flexible and hybrid way of working.

More people will also be allowed to attend some events from April 24 as part of an easing of Covid-19 restrictions, if pre-event testing is in place for these activities.

Specifically for wedding receptions, the limit will be increased from 100 to 250 attendees for the entire event, in zones of up to 50 attendees each.

The Straits Times tackles some of the frequently asked questions about the changes.

Q: With more people going to the office, can I have team-bonding activities and lunch with my colleagues in the workplace?

A: All social and recreational gatherings like lunches and team-bonding activities within or outside the workplace must adhere to the limit of eight people. Work-related events should also not have meals as their main feature. Employers should avoid holding events over mealtimes.

Q: My employer wants to send me to work at more than one worksite. Is this allowed?

A: No. Employees are not allowed to work at more than one worksite, except for firms or industries where this is critical for operations. If cross-deployment cannot be avoided, additional safeguards must be taken to minimise the risk of cross-infection.

Q: When more people return to work, buses and trains will be more crowded. Won't this increase the risk of Covid-19 transmission?

A: This is unlikely to happen if commuters continue to take precautionary measures, such as keeping their masks on and refraining from talking on buses and trains. Companies are strongly encouraged to still stagger start times and implement flexible working hours.

Q: What about eateries during lunch? How will they be made safe as they get more crowded?

A: Employers are encouraged to stagger timings of lunch and other breaks. At eateries, workers should continue to follow safety measures, such as maintaining social distancing and keeping their masks on when they are not eating or drinking.

Q: My wedding will have 100 attendees. Do I still need to conduct pre-event testing?

A: No. Pre-event testing for all attendees will be required only for receptions with more than 100 attendees - including the wedding couple. This is due to the fact that with more attendees, there is a higher risk, with people unmasked while eating and in close and prolonged contact with one another.

Q: Will I need to conduct Covid-19 testing for a wake or funeral after a death in the family, given how more can attend such events now?

A: Pre-event testing is not needed for people attending wakes and funerals. But note that the increase in the number of people who can attend these events has been raised from 30 to 50 only on the day of the burial or cremation. The limit for other days of the wake remains at 30.

Q: If I want to attend a concert, play or any other live event, will I have to be vaccinated first?

A: No. Attendees who have taken both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine at least two weeks before the event will not have to be tested. Live performances will be able to have up to 750 attendees if they implement pre-event testing, or up to 250 attendees without testing.