SINGAPORE - Basic training for some 8,000 servicemen will resume from May 26, seven weeks after they were suspended in line with nationwide circuit breaker measures to stem the spread of Covid-19.
The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in separate statements on Tuesday (May 19) that the resumption of training for these two batches was necessary for front-line or operational units to be staffed and for commanders to be trained.
About 6,300 military recruits will be informed of their reporting dates, which start on May 26 to the middle of June, said Mindef.
For about 1,700 police and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) full-time national servicemen (NSF) trainees, their reporting dates will be between May 26 and June 8, said MHA.
The ministries said the staggered dates will reduce congestion and allow safe distancing measures to be implemented.
They added that strict health and safety measures will be in place, like having all trainees and instructors undergo a health screening when they return for training.
Those who have symptoms of respiratory infection will be immediately separated from the rest and tested for Covid-19.
Existing measures, such as twice-daily temperature taking and staggered meal times, will be enforced.
Training will also be adjusted to be done in smaller groups, the ministries said.
On Tuesday, the multi-ministry task force in charge of handling the outbreak announced plans for businesses, schools and other community activities to resume in a gradual manner from June 2, as Singapore exits its circuit breaker period.
Both Mindef and MHA had announced on April 6 that basic training would be suspended from April 7 to May 4. This was later extended to June 1 in line with the Government's extension of the circuit breaker.
Mindef on Tuesday said the resumption of basic military training was necessary to generate operational units as well as select commanders for training at the Officer Cadet and Specialist Cadet schools.
These schools have continued training throughout the circuit breaker period since April 7 with precautionary measures in place.
MHA said basic training has to resume to ensure the continued development of commanders and NSFs for deployment to front-line units in the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and SCDF.
Like the SAF, Home Team training that is considered essential - such as officer cadet training for SPF and SCDF trainees - have continued.
Affected servicemen include those that were "administratively enlisted" in April and May so far.
This meant they were considered to have been enlisted, but did not have to report to camp until they receive their next reporting date when the suspension ends.
During the suspension, trainees have to stay at home and go out only to buy food or for other essential activities - similar to restrictions to other Singaporeans during this period. Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC) recruits have to do home-based learning with provided online training content.
During a visit to BMTC on April 1, the SAF highlighted measures that it introduced to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection. These included having recruits move from place to place in a section - comprising a maximum of 16 people - instead of in a platoon, which has up to 64 recruits.
Physical training like runs will also be done in sections, as will the SAR-21 rifle technical handling training and weapon presentation ceremonies.