askST: Do I still need to wear a mask in the office? What if my mask becomes discoloured?

Mask wearing in public remains mandatory, so anyone commuting on public transport, going out for essential activities such as buying food or working must put on a mask.
Mask wearing in public remains mandatory, so anyone commuting on public transport, going out for essential activities such as buying food or working must put on a mask.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The eight-week Covid-19 circuit breaker period has ended, but many readers continue to have questions on rules about mask wearing in public, visiting and travel during phase one of Singapore's reopening. The Straits Times answers your questions.

ON MASKS

Q: Why does the new reusable mask become discoloured after washing? Does this affect its effectiveness?

A: The reusable face masks given out to all Singapore residents during the third mask distribution exercise can become discoloured if they are washed improperly.

The masks require special care and should be hand washed with room-temperature water and mild soap before being hung up to dry, a spokesman for the manufacturer told The Straits Times. They should not be soaked, washed with detergent, bleached or wrung dry.

"If there is discolouration of the mask, it means the anti-bacterial barrier is broken and the mask should be replaced immediately," the spokesman added. "We are offering a one-time one-for-one exchange for consumers who did not understand the care instructions."

The People's Association said discoloured masks can be exchanged for new ones at the mask collection counters in community clubs and centres during the mask distribution exercise, which runs till June 14.

Q: Do I still need to wear a mask in the office if I am not interacting with the public?

A: Yes. It is still mandatory to wear a mask in public unless you are exercising or in your own car.

This means anyone commuting on public transport, going out for essential activities such as buying food or working must wear a mask.

This applies to all workers and workplaces, regardless of whether there is any interaction with customers.

ON VISITING AND CARPOOLING

Q: Can grandparents visit their grandchildren?

A: No. In phase one of the post-circuit breaker period, seniors can receive up to two visitors from the same household, including children being dropped off for care.

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But seniors should not leave their homes to visit their family members because there will likely be a higher risk of community transmission during phase one, the Health Ministry has said.

"We will not allow seniors to visit their children because we want seniors to stay at home as much as possible," Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said during a news conference on May 19.

"So, you should not leave your home and visit your children, and hop from household to household. This will increase exposure unnecessarily to the risk of infection."

Large gatherings such as group dinners with friends or family members who are not from the same household are also still not allowed during phase one.

Q: Can I provide informal, non-commercial carpooling, such as helping my neighbours to take their children to school?

A: No. Social distancing rules prohibiting interaction between those who do not live in the same household continue to apply.

This means carpooling is still not allowed in phase one, regardless of whether it involves any commercial transaction. However, school bus services are allowed to operate.

ON TRAVEL

Q: I am a Singaporean living overseas. If I return now, will I still have to serve my stay-home notice (SHN) at a dedicated facility?

A: There is no change to the policy for those re-entering Singapore after the circuit breaker period.

Singaporeans and permanent residents are allowed to enter, but will be issued a 14-day SHN. They will be taken directly to the dedicated facilities upon landing at the airport.

 
 

Long-term pass holders who are planning to enter or return to Singapore must first obtain permission from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority. Short-term visitors are still not allowed entry.

All travellers, regardless of nationality, must submit a health declaration via the SG Arrival Card e-service before they commence their journey to Singapore.

Anyone who disregarded prevailing travel advisories and left Singapore on or after March 27 will have to bear the full cost of their SHN.

Q: Can I leave Singapore for personal reasons during this period?

A: Yes, provided you are able to arrange transport, and the destination country is allowing travellers to enter. But if you get Covid-19 overseas, develop symptoms within 14 days of returning and require medical treatment in Singapore, you will have to bear the full, unsubsidised cost of the treatment. This policy has not changed.

Q: When will daily travel to and from Johor Baru and other parts of Malaysia be allowed again?

A: That remains to be seen. Malaysia's movement control order, which prohibits Malaysians from leaving and foreigners from entering the country, is still in effect, at least until June 9. The Malaysian authorities said on Monday they had yet to decide whether to lift the order or extend it.

 
 

ON ENTERTAINMENT

Q: Will golf courses be open?

A: No, golf courses and other sports and recreation facilities such as public swimming pools are not permitted to reopen.

Q: What about gambling activities like casinos, horse racing and Singapore Pools outlets?

A: No.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 03, 2020, with the headline 'Free one-time replacement if mask becomes discoloured'. Print Edition | Subscribe