Dining in to resume from June 21 but only in groups of 2, as S'pore opts for calibrated Covid-19 opening

The group limit will be increased to five from mid-July as part of this "calibrated approach" to opening. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Dining in can resume from next Monday (June 21), but in groups of two people instead of five as previously announced, said Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong on Friday (June 18).

The group limit will be increased to five from mid-July as part of this "calibrated approach" to opening, barring unforeseen circumstances in the virus situation, he added at a press conference by the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19.

Friday's announcement comes amid a rise in locally transmitted cases over the past week, brought about by a growing cluster at the 115 Bukit Merah View market and food centre. Dining in has not been allowed since May 16 as part of tightened measures to stem a rise in community cases.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said there were 94 locally-transmitted cases in the past seven days, compared with 41 in the previous seven. The proportion of unlinked cases has remained stable at 19 per cent.

Singapore has made progress because it has boosted its capabilities for testing and contact tracing, and vaccinated a good part of its population, he added.

"So I believe we are now able to put the circuit breaker behind this and keep most businesses open while navigating a wave of transmissions, as we have done over the past few weeks," he said.

In a statement, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said wedding receptions will remain prohibited until mid-July, as these are higher-risk activities where attendees tend to socialise more and over a longer period of time.

From next Monday, gyms and fitness studios may resume indoor mask-off sports and exercise activities in group sizes of up to two people, and in classes of up to 30 people, including the instructor.

This must be done with safe distancing of at least 2m between individuals and 3m between groups, said MOH.

For mask-on activities and outdoor mask-off activities, these can continue in groups of no more than five people, in classes of up to 30 people, including the instructor.

Work from home will remain the default arrangement to control transmission risks by reducing overall interaction within workplaces and in public places, including on public transport, the ministry added.

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From next Monday, groups that exceed two people who are not from the same household will not be allowed to dine-in together at eateries, even if they are split across multiple tables, MOH said.

People from the same household can eat out at multiple tables, said task force co-chair and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong in response to a question. "But they have to make it very clear that they are from the same household, that is not new. We've allowed that before and we will continue to do so.

"But if you're not from the same household, then you cannot go and do multiple bookings to have multiple tables. So the same rules that previously applied will continue to apply," he said.

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Rapid testing for those working in high-risk settings, such as at food and beverage (F&B) outlets and gyms, will be ramped up to provide greater reassurance for further reopening, said Mr Gan, who also co-chairs the task force.

To further reduce the risk of transmission from patrons talking loudly, recorded music will not be allowed in F&B establishments, MOH said. This is on top of current restrictions on videos and TV screening, as well as live entertainment at these places.

Eateries should strictly observe safe distancing of at least 1m between groups of diners as well.

"Enforcement will be stepped up and we will take firmer enforcement action for any breaches of safe management measures. Patrons must keep their masks on at all times, except when eating or drinking," said MOH.

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F&B outlets across Singapore will welcome patrons to dine in from June 21 after a five-week dine-in ban, albeit in groups of up to two. What will the future dining scene look like for F&B owners?

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