One-time check-in at public venues when entry via TraceTogether kicks in

A single check-in with the TraceTogether app or token to public venues such as malls will suffice in the future. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - The inconvenience of checking in and out with SafeEntry at different stores within a shopping centre will be a thing of the past once compulsory TraceTogether-only SafeEntry kicks in.

A single check-in with the TraceTogether app or token to public venues such as malls will suffice in the future, according to a written parliamentary reply on Monday evening (Feb 1).

Currently, people who visit public places that have many visitors or have a high transmission risk of Covid-19 - malls, dine-in eateries and workplaces, for example - must check-in using SafeEntry or TraceTogether for contact tracing purposes in the event of a detected coronavirus case.

After checking in, they have to do so again when entering other places within the venue, such as large shops in a mall.

Check-ins using TraceTogether is not mandatory for now.

But Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean said in a written parliamentary reply to Mr Leon Perera (Aljunied) that with the better TraceTogether coverage after the implementation of TraceTogether-only SafeEntry at public places, "we will also remove some existing SafeEntry check-ins to minimise public inconvenience".

"For example, after checking in to a mall via TraceTogether-only SafeEntry, a customer would no longer need to check in to larger retail stores and supermarkets inside the mall," said Mr Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security.

But there are exceptions.

Regardless of prior check-ins, patrons need to still check in with TraceTogether-only SafeEntry at establishments where the transmission risk is higher, as people are likely to be in close proximity for long periods of time or may remove their masks for legitimate reasons, like to exercise in a gym or eat at a food and beverage outlet.

The Smart Nation and Digital Government Office said last month that TraceTogether-only SafeEntry will be implemented "only after everyone has had a chance to collect a (TraceTogether) token in their constituencies, and a reasonable period of national distribution is achieved".

More than 80 per cent of the population have downloaded the TraceTogether app or collected the token.

Public venues are not required to implement TraceTogether-only SafeEntry now, except for events or businesses that are part of ongoing pilots, such as live performances, cinemas and selected nightlife venues.

When TraceTogether-only SafeEntry is implemented, people will not be able to check in by scanning the SafeEntry QR code with a phone camera or the SingPass mobile app, or the barcodes on their NRICs.

This is an issue for some as they have concerns over using the TraceTogether app or token, such as after it emerged last month that the police could use TraceTogether data for investigations into serious crimes including murder and rape.

On Monday, Mr Teo said the Government estimates that more than half of the 40,000 public venues, where SafeEntry is currently mandatory, have already begun accepting TraceTogether token check-ins and are also ready to implement TraceTogether-only SafeEntry.

He also said the Government will help business to get ready for a smooth transition to TraceTogether-only SafeEntry, in his reply to Mr Perera's question on the matter.

Safe-distancing ambassadors will guide businesses in using the free SafeEntry Business app - already used for reading ID barcodes like those on the NRIC - to scan the QR codes on TraceTogether tokens for check-ins. The Government has also published online guides on using the app.

Businesses using physical scanners that can only read ID barcodes will need to start using scanners that can read QR codes, or use the SafeEntry Business app.

"We are working on potential solutions that would make it more convenient for public-facing businesses to enable the checking in of TraceTogether tokens and TraceTogether-only SafeEntry. Details will be announced later," said Mr Teo.

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