SINGAPORE - New measures were announced on Saturday (Oct 23) 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 on Wednesday that the tighter curbs currently in place - including restricting group sizes for dining in to two people - will be extended for a month till Nov 21.
The new measures are:
1. Only fully vaccinated employees can return to workplaces from next year
From Jan 1, 2022, only employees who are fully vaccinated, or have recovered from Covid-19 within the past 270 days, can return to the workplace.
Unvaccinated employees will not be allowed to return to the workplace unless they have tested negative for Covid-19 before returning, and they will need to pay for the costs of these tests, MOH said.
This should be a pre-event test at an MOH-approved Covid-19 test provider, and must be valid for the duration that the employees are required to be present at the workplace.
2. Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine to be included in the national vaccination programme
The Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine will be included in the national vaccination programme, following the Health Sciences Authority's interim authorisation of the vaccine under the Pandemic Special Access Route (PSAR).
All individuals who have received two doses of the Sinovac vaccine will be regarded as fully vaccinated for four months after the second dose, or Dec 31 this year, whichever is later.
However, the full regime for Sinovac should include three doses, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, with the third dose given 90 days after the second.
The Sinovac vaccine will be administered for free from the Ministry of Health (MOH)-assigned vaccination centre at Raffles City Convention Centre, on top of the 11 selected Public Health Preparedness Clinics and private clinics that have already been approved to provide the vaccine.
MOH will also offer the three-dose primary series regime of Sinovac under the programme to those who have not completed their full course of vaccination, including people who had only received one or two doses of Sinovac previously.
But Sinovac will not be offered as a booster for people who had already completed two doses of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty and Moderna) and did not develop allergies or severe adverse reactions.
These measures take into account the relatively lower vaccine efficacy of Sinovac compared with mRNA vaccines, as recommended by the Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination, MOH explained.
The vaccine has also not been approved for general use for individuals aged 12 to 17 years. But for those in this age band who are medically ineligible to complete a full two-dose regime of the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine, MOH will offer a three-dose primary series using Sinovac under a dedicated public health programme.
3. Concessions for those medically ineligible for vaccination
MOH will make a special concession to exempt some people from the vaccination-differentiated measures, if they are certified to be medically ineligible for all vaccines under the national vaccination programme.
This means they will be able to enter premises such as shopping malls and hawker centres and participate in some activities from Nov 1.
More details on the medical criteria and timeline for this exemption will be provided later.
4. Pregnant Covid-19 patients can recover at home
The Home Recovery Programme, which is now the safe and default option for the majority of Covid-19 patients, will be extended to pregnant Covid-19 patients. They must also be fully vaccinated, and are below 35 years old and less than 26 weeks pregnant.
These patients would be clinically assessed at selected hospitals to be suitable for home recovery before commencing the programme.
5. Fully vaccinated seniors to resume community activities
The People's Association will organise activities for fully vaccinated seniors according to prevailing safe management measures.
These activities for fully vaccinated seniors will be held in a safe manner at specific sites and dedicated timings, MOH said.
The People's Association will release more details at a later date.
MOH also announced updates to Singapore's border measures. They are:
1. More fully vaccinated domestic workers can enter the country
MOH will facilitate the entry of more fully vaccinated domestic workers to meet urgent domestic and caregiving needs of local households, while regulating the numbers carefully as the global situation evolves, it said.
2. Review of countries or region categories
All travellers with a 14-day travel history to Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka prior to departure to Singapore will be allowed to enter and transit through Singapore from 11.59pm on Oct 26.