More allowed to return to workplaces from Sept 28

But safety measures must be in place and working from home remains default option

The Manpower Ministry has updated its requirements for safe management measures at the workplace, which will take effect from next Monday.
The Manpower Ministry has updated its requirements for safe management measures at the workplace, which will take effect from next Monday.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

More activities will resume in the coming weeks and businesses will be able to run their operations more smoothly since Singapore has managed to keep the number of Covid-19 cases in the community relatively low, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong yesterday.

In the most significant easing of restrictions at workplaces since the circuit breaker was imposed in April, more employees will be allowed to return to the office from next Monday. However, safe management measures must be in place and employers should ensure flexible working hours and staggered reporting times.

Also, employees must continue to work from home for at least half their working hours as working from home is still the default option.

Employers must also ensure that no more than half of the employees who are able to work from home are in the office at any point in time.

In another move to help businesses, essential business travel will be permitted for senior executives with extensive regional or international responsibilities through a new pilot scheme.

Under the trial, a limited number of passes will be given out through Singapore's economic agencies, and those who travel will have to abide by a "strict, controlled itinerary". When they return, travellers will be given the option of doing a Covid-19 test instead of serving a stay-home notice, and self-isolating until the test results are out.

Events within the workplace, such as seminars, corporate retreats and annual general meetings, will also be allowed to resume as long as safe distancing measures are in place. However, work-related events at external venues remain prohibited for now.

These updated requirements for safe management measures at the workplace will take effect next Monday. The Health Ministry said the update balances the impact of working from home on productivity, while creating a safe environment for employees.

During a press conference by the multi-ministry task force tackling the pandemic, Mr Gan also announced the easing of safe distancing measures for religious services, marriage solemnisations, and wedding receptions.

From Oct 3, all religious organisations will be allowed to hold congregational and other worship services for up to 100 people, as long as safe distancing measures are in place.

For wedding receptions, up to 100 guests - including the wedding couple, but excluding vendors and service providers - will be allowed. They should be split into groups of no more than 50 people, or attend the wedding at separate time slots. There should be at least 30 minutes between slots for cleaning and disinfection of the event space.

The cap for marriage solemnisations will also be increased to 100 people split across multiple zones of up to 50 people each.

However, venue operators may impose a lower cap if they are unable to comply with the zoning or staggered timing requirements.

 
 
 

Mr Gan said voluntary Covid-19 testing of taxi and private-hire car drivers has also started, with more than 10,000 tested over the past two weeks. Around 750 stallholders and food delivery personnel were also tested over the weekend. No positive cases have been reported in these groups so far, he added.

"This is a good sign as it indicates very low prevalence in our community," he said.

"It is also an indication that our safe distancing and safe management measures, coupled with the use of face masks and heightened vigilance on everyone's part, are powerful and effective weapons in our fight against Covid-19."

Education Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the task force with Mr Gan, said the Government is already working on a road map for the third and final phase of Singapore's reopening.

"We have some plans on how this can be done over the subsequent weeks, and when we are ready, we will share these plans with Singaporeans," he said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2020, with the headline 'More allowed to return to workplaces from Sept 28'. Print Edition | Subscribe