Strict measures for firms to prevent new wave of coronavirus

Extensive list released yesterday includes physical distancing, digital check-in system

When working from home is not possible, employers must ensure precautions are in place before work can resume. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

It will be mandatory for all offices and even canteens to ensure that workers do not stand close together, to limit the chance of a coronavirus resurgence as the Singapore economy gradually opens up.

Taxis too will have to progressively put in place a national digital check-in system for passengers, called SafeEntry, so that close contacts of infected cases can be quickly traced.

These are among the extensive list of measures, revealed yesterday by the authorities, which will have to be put in place from Tuesday by businesses - such as barbers and laundry services - which are allowed to reopen.

Last week, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling the coronavirus outbreak, warned companies against rushing to reopen while neglecting safe-management practices, and said those with inadequate precautions may be asked to stop work and face penalties.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday warned about the possibility of a "second wave" of Covid-19 cases as countries around the world take steps towards normalcy.

Highlighting the need to quickly suppress new clusters if they emerge, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on Covid-19 response at the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, highlighted Singapore as one example where testing and contact tracing capabilities are being ramped up alongside some easing of circuit breaker measures.

The danger of a second wave was highlighted yesterday when the South Korean capital of Seoul ordered all its nightclubs and bars to shut again, after dozens of infections were reported in relation to a 29-year-old who tested positive after spending time at five clubs and bars in Itaewon last weekend.

In yesterday's statement, the Ministry of Manpower and the other tripartite partners made it clear that for businesses allowed to open, staff who can work from home must do so. And all meetings between colleagues or external parties should be done virtually as far as possible. Masks must also be worn at all times unless activities do not permit this.

Physical dividers or visual markers have to be installed to create a safe physical distance of at least 1m between employees' workstations and in shared spaces such as canteens and meeting rooms.

Meanwhile, the SafeEntry system will be compulsory for places where people are likely to be in close proximity for prolonged periods of time, in enclosed spaces and in places with high traffic. These include offices, factories and supermarkets.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 10, 2020, with the headline Strict measures for firms to prevent new wave of coronavirus. Subscribe