Number of safe distancing ambassadors deployed to be reduced as Covid-19 restrictions ease: MSE

This decrease will allow SDAs to return to other sectors as the economy continues to recover. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - The number of safe distancing ambassadors (SDAs) deployed on patrols will be gradually stepped down as Singapore further eases its Covid-19 restrictions from Tuesday (April 26).

The Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) said on Sunday (April 24) that this decrease will allow SDAs to return to other sectors as the economy continues to recover, amid a tightening labour market.

Around 2,000 SDAs are currently employed by various government agencies, the ministry added. Employment assistance will be provided to those who require it.

Last Friday, the Ministry of Health announced a large-scale easing of Covid-19 measures, including the removal of group size limits and safe distancing requirements Currently, the rule states that individuals need to keep to a group of 10 people for mask-off activities. The use of SafeEntry and TraceTogether will also cease at most venues.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, MSE said: "As we make further progress in easing measures and living with Covid-19, personal and social responsibility by individuals and premises owners will become more important to keeping everyone safe."

However, as safe management measures (SMMs) still apply in certain settings, there will be a need for enforcement officers (EOs) to conduct checks and investigations of such violations, the ministry added. EOs have the authority to conduct enforcement against SMM violations.

"Examples include vaccination-differentiated SMMs in settings with higher risks of transmission, such as events with more than 500 participants at any one time, nightlife establishments with dancing, and food and beverage establishments," MSE said.

Firm enforcement action will continue to be taken against individuals and operators of premises who do not comply with prevailing SMMs, said the ministry. "This could include fines or prosecution in court for egregious cases."

MSE encouraged members of the public to do their part to keep one another safe and secure as Singapore adjusts to the new normal.

"We would also like to thank all our SDAs and EOs for their tireless efforts and contributions towards keeping Singapore safe during the Covid-19 pandemic," it added.

Mr Anthony Arriola, 61, an SDA who worked as a tour guide before the pandemic struck, said he has been waiting for two years to return to the tourism industry.

“I am confident that things will go back to pre-pandemic levels and chances are good that I can return to my previous job,” he said.

Ms Natalie Chai Hui Chuen, another SDA who used to guide tour groups, said she feels uncertain about going back to her former role.

“We do not know if tourists will come back after the pandemic, or if they are okay with large tour formations and buses, like in the past,” she said.

Ms Chai, who is in her 50s, added: “We are unsure about what people like and whether their expectations have changed. Will my previous experiences as a tour guide still be relevant?”

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Tuesday that all job seekers, including those in short-term Covid-19 roles like SDAs, can approach Workforce Singapore (WSG) or National Trades Union Congress’ e2i for assistance.

A spokesman for MOM said: “Mature job seekers, the long-term unemployed, and persons with disabilities can also approach our SGUnited Jobs and Skills placement partners – Adecco Personnel, Charterhouse, and Good Job Creations (Singapore).”

Some SDAs are employed by the public sector or by government-funded institutions, which will provide them with information on how they can sign up for career coaching and employability workshops.

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