No social gatherings at S'pore workplaces from Sept 8; tougher action if Covid-19 cases are detected

The Government will distribute antigen rapid test kits to companies to facilitate weekly testing of their staff over a two-month period. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Social gatherings at workplaces will not be allowed from Wednesday (Sept 8), with tougher action to be taken if workers are found to be infected.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Monday (Sept 6) said that recent clusters in workplace settings have emerged because of lax safe management measures, especially in areas such as staff canteens and pantries, where people tend to let their guard down and interact without their masks on.

The ministry warned that it will take tougher action if there are positive cases among the workers.

"In particular, employers will be required to put in place a maximum work-from-home (WFH) requirement over a 14-day period should one or more of their workers be found to have contracted Covid-19 and have returned to their workplace.

"This means that everyone in the company who can WFH will be required to do so. Those who are working from home should minimise social gatherings and leave their homes only for essential activities during this 14-day period."

More details will be released by the Manpower Ministry soon, MOH added.

On Monday, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19, said the previously announced measures for workplaces are not being rolled back.

"We have already provided that guideline that 50 per cent of staff who can work from home can now go back to the office. That remains, we're not changing the guideline," said Mr Wong.

"But we're asking all employers to test their staff who are working onsite regularly... in order to ensure that their workplaces remain safe."

To do so, the Government will distribute antigen rapid test (ART) kits to companies in sectors not subject to mandatory testing to facilitate weekly testing of their staff over a two-month period.

Each firm will get eight ART kits per on-site employee.

While these tests can be administered by individuals at home or at the work premises, MOH said, employers should put in place a process to ensure that the tests are done properly, and report the results to respective government agencies.

"We hope that the distribution of ART kits to both households and companies will help to instil a culture of responsibility in administering regular self-tests. This will become an important tool in the new normal, so that we can dampen the impact of Covid-19 without having to impose heightened alerts," added MOH.

More details on this will made available at a later date.

Read next - New measures to control Covid-19 in Singapore: What you need to know

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