SINGAPORE - All sports activities can resume in groups of up to 30 fully vaccinated persons from Feb 25 at supervised or operated sports facilities, such as ActiveSG ones and approved private venues, the multi-ministry task force handling the pandemic announced on Wednesday (Feb 16).
The number includes players, coaches and umpires, while the prevailing safe management measures will apply before and after the activity, as well as during breaks.
No testing is required beforehand as long as all participants are fully vaccinated, but they are strongly encouraged to take a self-test before arriving. They should also stay home if they develop symptoms, and follow the protocols if they test positive.
This means that team sports such as football and hockey can resume full-scale for the first time in nearly two years.
One sport that might still be affected is 15-a-side rugby, which can only take place without officials.
A current pilot allows up to 10 people in a group, provided all participants are fully vaccinated and present a valid negative antigen rapid test result on-site.
Before the pilot, the previous largest group size allowed during the pandemic was eight.
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said there is no compelling international evidence showing that sports participation causes more infections.
He said: “You are more likely to catch the virus dining with friends than playing sports with them. What is more important is to ensure players observe group size and masking rules before and after the game, and during breaks, because that is when they will have prolonged contact.
“Two years have taken its toll on the physical and mental well-being for people, particularly so for the young who are in their growing years and should keep active through sports.”
Sport Singapore will provide more details, said a Ministry of Health statement.
Players and officials welcomed the news. Member of netball club Xtrix, Miss Valerie Wong, 24, hopes this means more carnivals and leagues can resume as it was difficult to stay motivated with the lack of competitions in the last two years.
Miss Wong, who works in sales, added: “We have been playing 3v3 for a very long time, so I am nervous about not being used to 7v7 movements and strategies.”
Recreational footballer Marcus Teng is also concerned about injuries and being rusty, but said he is looking to do other exercises besides football to manage that.
The recruitment consultant, 26, said: “I am just happy that 11v11 games can finally resume. It is definitely going to feel weird because I am used to training in smaller groups. But the variation in training is limited, and there isn’t a lot of fun.”
While Singapore Hockey Federation president Mathavan Devadas was also excited by the news, he pointed out that it did not mean leagues could resume.
While a hockey match is typically 11-a-side with two referees, a full squad has 18 players. This takes the number to 38, excluding coaches and team officials.
If hockey leagues were to resume, Mr Mathavan said a modified version would probably still be considered.