SINGAPORE - New measures were announced on Monday (Nov 15) by the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 to help Singapore live with the Covid-19 pandemic.
The announcements came after the task force said last week that fully vaccinated people from the same household would be able to dine out in groups of up to five, given that the Covid-19 situation had stabilised.
Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said an update may be provided early next week if Singapore should move on current Covid-19 measures.
The new measures are:
1. Dining at hawker centres, coffee shops
Fully vaccinated people from the same household will be able to dine in groups of up to five at hawker centres from end-November.
Restaurants and eateries, with proper access controls, have since Nov 10 been able to allow members of the same household, including unvaccinated children aged 12 and below, to dine in groups of up to five.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said the National Environment Agency (NEA) has been engaging the hawkers' associations and town councils to help hawker centres put in place access control and checking systems.
The first group of hawker centres should have these measures ready by the end of November, with the remaining to follow soon after.
The Singapore Food Agency has also been engaging coffee shop operators to provide them the option of putting in place a system to control access and check the vaccination status of their patrons.
Otherwise, the prevailing group size of two will apply.
The list of acceptable documents to check if people are from the same household will also be expanded beyond NRIC and Singpass to include other government digital apps such as myICA and SGWorkPass.
2. New, cheaper self-test kits
The Health Sciences Authority has authorised the Flowflex antigen rapid test (ART) kit for self-test, bringing the number of approved ART kits to nine.
Two other ART kits have also been approved to undergo the Pandemic Special Access Route registration.
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said he expects these kits to be priced significantly below the current prices of ART kits, which are about $10.
He said they can hopefully be below $5 for each test, depending on commercial decisions.
MOH said it has been working with partners to actively source more high-quality and affordable self-test ART kits, to bring down costs while ensuring that those authorised for sale in Singapore continue to meet stringent safety and quality standards.
3. New vaccination-differentiated regulations
MOH will pilot a new protocol, dubbed Vaccination-Differentiated Safe Management Measures + Test, to allow fully vaccinated individuals to do a test before participating in an expanded list of activities.
The test results, by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or ART, must be reflected on TraceTogether, or performed or supervised by the event organiser or venue operator.
This protocol will start with selected meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions, spectator sports and live performance events where capacity limits and zoning requirements will be eased in a calibrated manner.
The pilots kicked off on Monday with the Milken Institute Asia Summit, and will also apply to the Bloomberg New Economy Forum from Nov 16 and the Industrial Transformation Asia Pacific 2021 from Nov 22.
Upcoming events that will be included in the coming months are JJ Lin's two-day charity live concert After the Rain and a One Championship martial arts event.
The pilot results will be assessed before the protocol is expanded to more events.
4. Vaccines for children
MOH has signed a new supply agreement with Pfizer, which includes the delivery of paediatric vaccines.
Singapore's own child vaccination trial is also making progress, said Mr Ong.
KK Women's and Children's Hospital is overseeing the trial and plans to start recruitment of the first batch of participants aged between five and 11 years old.
5. More countries added to vaccinated travel lane arrangement
Singapore intends to launch vaccinated travel lanes (VTLs) with India and Indonesia from Nov 29, and with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates from Dec 6.
Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP) applications for short-term visitors and long-term pass holders will start on Nov 22 for travellers from India and Indonesia, and Nov 29 for travellers from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE.
Returning Singapore citizens and permanent residents who are fully vaccinated will not need to apply for the VTP in order to make use of the VTLs.
To date, Singapore has VTLs with Australia, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States.
It will be launching VTLs with Malaysia, Finland and Sweden from Nov 29.
6. Easing of restrictions for migrant workers
From Dec 3, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will further ease restrictions for migrant workers residing in dormitories.
Specifically, 3,000 vaccinated migrant workers will be allowed to visit any location within the community, for up to eight hours per visit per day. This is an increase from the allowance of 3,000 migrant workers per week.
The necessary safeguards, such as additional pre-event ART before they leave their dormitories, remain in place as an added precaution.
Migrant workers will also be allowed to visit recreation centres daily with an extended duration of eight hours per visit, up from the current thrice weekly cap.
Unvaccinated migrant workers have to undergo a pre-visit ART to be allowed entry into these centres.
From mid-December, they can visit any recreation centre of their choice. MOM is also working with operators to increase the variety of activities at these centres.