Stricter rules for those unvaccinated against Covid-19 take effect in S'pore

Exceptions will be made for unvaccinated people who need to enter malls or large standalone stores for medical or childcare services. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Unvaccinated people will no longer be able to eat at hawker centres and coffee shops from Wednesday (Oct 13), as Singapore rolls out stricter curbs on those who are not inoculated against Covid-19.

Similar restrictions will take effect in malls and large standalone stores - such as Ikea - in a week's time, although the authorities have said exceptions will be made for unvaccinated people who need medical or childcare services.

But they must show proof that they require such services, said the Ministry of Trade and Industry and Enterprise Singapore in a joint statement on Tuesday.

The exceptions for unvaccinated people include:

- Those who need medical attention from doctors, dentists and registered traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners in such premises, as well as caregivers of such individuals. Proof of appointment such as a letter, email, SMS or appointment card is required for entry.

- Caregivers dropping off or picking up children from preschools and childcare centres. A letter of support from the preschool or childcare centre is required for entry.

- Children aged 12 and below.

- Unvaccinated persons who have recovered from Covid-19. Proof of status can be shown using the TraceTogether app or token; or via a valid discharge memo or Ministry of Health exemption notice accompanied by a government-issued photo ID.

- Unvaccinated persons with a negative pre-event test (PET) result will also be permitted entry for the duration of the activity or service.

Unvaccinated people who work in these places are already required to undergo twice-weekly testing, and will thus continue to have access to their workplaces "pending a further review of this policy", they added.

This includes people who have to visit such buildings for work, such as food delivery personnel or third-party contracted staff.

Unvaccinated people who have recovered from Covid-19 will similarly be granted access to such places by providing proof of their medical status, as will those who have a negative pre-event test result, for the duration of the event.

Children aged 12 and under, who cannot be vaccinated, are also exempt from these rules.

Malls will be required to check patrons' vaccination status from Wednesday (Oct 13), but can let in people who do not meet the requirements in during the one-week grace period.

They will have to remind patrons of the new rules.

In a video released on Tuesday, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu said her ministry will take a pragmatic approach in implementing vaccination-differentiation rules in hawker centres and coffee shops.

While hawker centres already have access controls, there is no need for coffee shops to implement a single access point or mandatory access points, or fence up their premises, she added.

Having a single access point in coffee shops with manpower to manage it will be operationally challenging, Ms Fu added.

Instead, food stall operators will be told to check the vaccination status of their customers at fixed points, such as their individual stalls, and remind those who are unvaccinated they are not allowed to dine in, she said.

Under the new measures, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated persons are only allowed to buy takeaway food from these places.

The authorities will be conducting spot checks at both hawker centres and coffee shops to ensure the rules are being enforced.

Agencies may focus their checks during peak hours and at hotspots with larger congregations of unvaccinated seniors, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Singapore Food Agency (SFA).

Ms Fu said the enforcement efforts will be selective and pragmatic, and will not inconvenience the majority of vaccinated diners.

"Our enforcement teams will go around and at certain times ask certain selected diners for their vaccination status," she added.

"And if they are not vaccinated, we will advise them and take down their names. If they continue to dine or repeatedly come back to dine-in again, we will then have no choice but to fine them."

NEA and SFA will also work with town councils and coffee shop operators respectively to deploy personnel to advise patrons on these rules.

To ensure space and safe distancing between diners as well as stallholders, more seats and tables at particularly congested hawker centres will be cordoned off, if necessary.

"What we are trying to do is really to discourage unvaccinated seniors from mingling in the community spaces. This is to really to protect them from serious illnesses," Ms Fu stressed.

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