No dining in, social gatherings capped at 2 people from May 16 as S'pore tightens Covid-19 rules

People will be allowed out in groups of only two from May 16 to June 13, with dining in prohibited.
People will be allowed out in groups of only two from May 16 to June 13, with dining in prohibited.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - People will be allowed out in groups of only two from this Sunday (May 16) until June 13, with dining in prohibited as Singapore tightens its Covid-19 restrictions to stamp out the spread of cases in the community.

Households will also not be allowed to receive more than two distinct visitors per day. Individuals should continue to cap their social gatherings at two a day as well.

Eateries and hawker centres will offer only takeaway and delivery during this period to reduce the risk of transmission, due to the higher risk posed by customers in close proximity and dining in for prolonged period with their masks off, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Friday.

Working from home will once again be the default for workplaces, and employers have to ensure that staff who can work from home do so.

Speaking at a virtual press conference, Education Minister Lawrence Wong said the stricter measures are needed because many members of the public would have visited Changi Airport in the last few weeks, with some subsequently becoming infected.

The concern is that there may be hidden cases that have leaked out into the community, added the multi-ministry task force co-chair, noting that unlinked cases have also gone up.

There are currently 46 cases in the Changi Airport cluster, making it the largest of Singapore's 11 active clusters.

In a Facebook post, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said: "The new clusters and unlinked community cases in the past fortnight are very worrying. We are testing more intensively, and doing our utmost to ring-fence the transmissions. But we also need stricter restrictions to stop more cases from popping up.

"Please stay at home as far as possible, go out only for essential tasks, and follow government advisories. If you do go out, remember to practise safe distancing measures, like using TraceTogether and wearing a mask."

MOH said it will allow families' current childcare arrangements to continue, grandchildren being cared for by their grandparents on a daily basis will not be counted towards the two-visitor cap. However, grandparents are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated against Covid-19, and minimise mingling among grandchildren from different households.

Apart from the prohibition on dining in, other activities that will no longer be allowed include strenuous indoor exercise classes and sports, as well as personalised services such as facials that require masks to be removed.

Singing and the playing of instruments such as wind or brass instruments will also not be allowed.

Other tighter restrictions include:

- Weddings receptions will not be allowed, although solemnisations may continue for up to 100 people with pre-event testing in place, or 50 people with no testing.

- Congregational and other worship services can continue with a lower cap of 50 people at any one time. The limit goes up to 100 attendees if pre-event testing is implemented.

- Occupancy limits for malls and showrooms will be further reduced from the current limit of 10 sq m per person of gross floor area, to 16 sq m per person.

- All attractions that received prior approval to operate at 50 per cent of their operating capacity will have to reduce this to 25 per cent.

- Indoor and outdoor shows are allowed to continue for up to 50 people, with the cap going up to 100 people if pre-event testing is implemented.

- Museums and public libraries will operate at a reduced capacity of 25 per cent.

- Up to 100 people may be allowed into cinema halls with pre-event testing, or up to 50 people if no testing is in place. The cap of two people per group applies, and food and drinks cannot be sold or consumed in the cinema.

To speed up detection, everyone who sees a doctor with signs of an acute respiratory infection will also have to undergo an antigen rapid test. This is in addition to the slower but more accurate polymerase chain reaction test.

This testing regime will be rolled out progressively, starting with around 200 public health preparedness clinics from Saturday.

In his post, PM Lee urged people to get vaccinated once they have to chance to do so, to protect themselves.

"The new measures will be difficult for everybody. But if we all play our part and look out for one another, we will succeed in stemming the transmission of the virus, just like we did last year."

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