Entrance checks on Covid-19 vaccination status to remain at malls, but not outlets within

The change is part of a move towards normalcy as Singapore prepares to live with the disease. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Retail, lifestyle, and food and beverage (F&B) outlets located within shopping malls will no longer need to conduct their own checks on the vaccination status of shoppers and diners, if this is already being done at the entrance of the malls.

The change is part of a move towards normalcy as Singapore prepares to live with Covid-19 and is expected to ease the load on these establishments, which have had to set up equipment and devote manpower to the task during the pandemic.

These vaccination-differentiated safe management measures (VDS) were eased since Covid-19 safe management measures were streamlined on March 15.

But the shops will still need to conduct checks if they operate outside mall hours, or have their own direct entrances that bypass the mall entrance.

They will also have to do so for events - regardless of the size of the event and whether food is served - unless they are located on premises that already require checks on the vaccination status of those entering.

They can, however, allow unvaccinated children aged 12 and below to enter their premises or participate in these events, even if these children are from a different household from the adults in the group.

The changes in VDS were announced by several government agencies including Enterprise Singapore, the Housing Board, the Singapore Food Agency, the Singapore Tourism Board and the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Starting from Tuesday (March 29), F&B establishments will be allowed to take in larger groups of up to 10 diners, if they perform checks on the vaccination status of diners at their entrances.

This applies to hawker centres and coffee shops as well, and comes as the group size for social gatherings is increased from five to 10 people.

F&B outlets that choose to dispense with vaccination-status checks and access controls at their entrances will be limited to taking in smaller groups of up to five fully vaccinated diners, said the Ministry of Health in a statement on Thursday (March 24).

These operators, though, will need to perform random spot checks to sieve out diners who are not fully vaccinated. But the onus will be on the diners to abide by the rules, said the ministry.

It added: "This will make it easier for the F&B operators who face difficulties in cordoning off their venues and setting up discrete access control points, especially hawker centres and coffee shops."

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Responding to a question from The Straits Times about whether the SafeEntry system will still be used, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Thursday that the national digital check-in system is still the easiest way to check a person's vaccination status.

He added at the media conference held by the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19: "We are evolving a different way of enforcement, such that for establishments that do not want to set up the entry control, they can step it down and based on random checks among the patrons, check that they are vaccinated.

"That...will help many establishments to step down and reduce the burden of enforcement and administration."

Read next: What you need to know about Singapore's latest Covid-19 rules

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