SINGAPORE - The SafeEntry check in to public venues will become a simpler and faster process from April 19 with a new tap-in system.
The new SafeEntry Gateway Box was launched on Tuesday (March 16) at Nex mall in Serangoon Central by the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO).
It was trialled at the mall from Feb 15.
To check in, visitors with the TraceTogether app or TraceTogether tokens can tap their devices on the gateway box, which is slightly larger than a smartphone.
Alternatively, an operator of a venue, such as a supermarket or large shop, can download an updated version of the SafeEntry (Business) App on his phone and use the phone, instead of the gateway box, for visitor check ins.
The SafeEntry Gateway system is being planned for a roll-out at selected crowded venues such as shopping malls, large stand-alone retail stores, cinemas, hospitals, polyclinics and Mice (meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions) venues hosting more than 100 participants.
Existing SafeEntry check-in methods using the QR codes and a visitor's NRIC will still be used at these places.
The Government has identified venues with high visitor traffic that need to implement the SafeEntry Gateway system from April 19.
They include locations inside crowded malls. For example, in the case of a cinema located in a shopping mall, both the cinema and the mall will need to have the SafeEntry Gateway system.
The gateway box works by exchanging Bluetooth signals with the TraceTogether app on a phone or token within a 25cm range.
By holding the TraceTogether app or token near it, the box will beep and show a green light. The SafeEntry (Business) App works in a similar way, and will also beep and display a green screen.
Users of the TraceTogether app have to open the app to check in.
Visitors can currently still use the TraceTogether app on devices and their tokens, and scan their NRICs to check in at venues.
Those with older phones can also scan the SafeEntry codes with the Singpass mobile app or phone cameras.
Operators of venues the Government has identified as requiring the SafeEntry Gateway Box can get up to four for free.
If they need more, they can appeal to the Government Technology Agency, which developed the gateway system. Alternatively, operators can download the free SafeEntry (Business) App from the Apple App Store or Google Play store.
The gateway system can also tell when TraceTogether tokens are running low on battery power. Users will find they cannot successfully check in when tapping on the box.
The token will display a green light that blinks about once every minute if there is enough life in the battery, which is expected to last four to six months.
If it is blinking red, or when there is no light, the token needs to be replaced.
From next month, token replacement stations will be set up at some venues where the SafeEntry Gateway has been rolled out.
Users can also get their tokens replaced for free at any community club if the battery is flat or the device is faulty.
Lost tokens are replaced at no charge for the first replacement but subsequent reissues will be charged to account for the cost of the token, said SNDGO.
The new SafeEntry Gateway box received good feedback when it was first trialled at three entrances in Downtown East from early October until December last year.
The SafeEntry Gateway is a type of SafeEntry check-in using only TraceTogether.
SNDGO previously said TraceTogether-only check-ins will be implemented "only after everyone has had a chance to collect a token in their constituencies, and a reasonable period of national distribution is achieved".
Currently, close to 90 per cent of residents, or about 4.7 million people, have downloaded the TraceTogether app or collected the TraceTogether tokens.
SNDGO said on Tuesday that more than three million people have collected their TraceTogether tokens.
For now, public venues are not required to implement TraceTogether-only SafeEntry, except for events or businesses that are part of ongoing pilots, such as live performances, cinemas and selected nightlife venues.
By using TraceTogether to enter a venue, the authorities can ensure that if a Covid-19 case is identified, close contacts in those locations can be alerted.
With both the TraceTogether and SafeEntry programmes, the authorities now take 1½ days or fewer to identify and quarantine close contacts of Covid-19 patients, down from the previous average of four days.
In future, only a single check-in with the TraceTogether app or token is needed at public venues like malls.
But patrons need to still check in with TraceTogether-only SafeEntry at establishments where the transmission risk is higher such as at gyms and food and beverage outlets.
The SafeEntry Gateway "check-in experience has proven to be quick and convenient for users of TraceTogether token and app even during peak hours", said a spokesman for Nex mall.
Consumers like Mr Wong Yock Luan said the new SafeEntry Gateway check-in system is convenient for TraceTogether app or token users.
"But I would still prefer to be given a choice on how I want to check in," added the 59-year-old, who works in the care-giving industry and currently checks in using the token or by scanning QR codes with his phone.
For more details on the SafeEntry Gateway, visit this website.
Crowded venues that will have SafeEntry Gateway
2. Large retail outlets larger than 10,000 sq ft
3. Selected popular wet markets: Geylang Serai Market, Block 104 / 105 Yishun Ring Road (Chong Pang Market), Block 20/21 Marsiling Lane, and Block 505 Jurong West Street 52
5. Public libraries
6. Selected museums, heritage institutions and galleries
8. Gated tourist attractions
9. Meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions (Mice) venues such as hotels and convention centres with events for over 100 people
10. Places of worship with worship services for more than 100 people
11. Public and private hospitals, national specialty centres, community hospitals and polyclinics
12. Funeral parlour with wake halls
Correction note: This story has been edited for clarity.