TraceTogether programme hits 70% participation among Singapore residents

The token distribution exercise at Kampong Kembangan Community Club on Dec 23, 2020. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - About 70 per cent of Singapore residents are now participating in the national contact tracing programme TraceTogether (TT), fulfilling a target the Government had earlier set in order for the country to enter phase three of its reopening.

But the authorities will not implement TraceTogether-only SafeEntry at venues such as cinemas and malls until everyone has had the chance to collect the TT token or download the app, Minister-in-Charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan said on Wednesday (Dec 23).

Dr Balakrishnan, who is also Foreign Minister, said that 70 per cent of residents here are either users of the TT app or the TT token as at Monday.

"We've gone past the 70 per cent participation rate in TraceTogether. There's been more than two million people who have downloaded the app and have registered and are using it," he told reporters on the sidelines of a TT token distribution exercise in Kampong Kembangan Community Club in Eunos.

"In addition, since Sept 14 when we started the distribution of the TraceTogether tokens, we have distributed so far about 1.75 million tokens. So that's a significant number and I'm very grateful for the trust and confidence of Singaporeans."

On Oct 20, Education Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the ministerial task force leading Singapore's response to Covid-19, said that the 70 per cent target was among the requirements before Singapore could go to the third phase of reopening its economy.

The other conditions are having in place safe management compliance and sufficient testing capabilities.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on Dec 14 that Singapore would enter this long-awaited phase next Monday (Dec 28).

In this new phase, social gatherings of up to eight people will be allowed in public, up from five currently, and households can receive up to eight visitors. Capacity limits in public places like malls, attractions and places of worship will also be eased.

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan demonstrating using the TraceTogether token with a SafeEntry Gateway at Kampong Kembangan Community Club. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SafeEntry, the nation's digital check-in system, is currently mandated at all these places, but when the new rule kicks in, people must instead use the TT app or token. The app includes a function for scanning SafeEntry QR codes, while the tokens sport a QR code with a similar function.

The TT tokens have been distributed to the public since September in CCs, and since late October, they have been distributed one constituency at a time to prevent long queues from forming.

The demand for the tokens has exceeded authorities' expectations, with over half the population having registered and collected tokens at some community clubs, noted Dr Balakrishnan.

"Over the next few weeks and months, as the additional stocks of tokens come in, we will reopen the community centres which currently are not distributing tokens. So I want to emphasise that there is no need to rush," he added.

The TT app and token work by exchanging short-distance Bluetooth signals with other TT apps or tokens nearby. This proximity data, which is encrypted and stored for 25 days before being automatically deleted, allows quick contact tracing.

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Correction note: This story has been edited for clarity.

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