SINGAPORE - New emerging clusters of Covid-19, including the growing KTV lounge cluster, are a setback that will delay Singapore's reopening plans, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Friday (July 16).
It announced a calibrated tightening of some safe management measures for higher-risk indoor, mask-off settings, to contain the spread in the community.
Here are the key announcements.
1. Two-person limit on dining in for unvaccinated people from July 19 to Aug 8
From next Monday, the cap for dining in at F&B outlets will be reduced to two, down from five, for anyone who has not been fully vaccinated.
Those who are fully vaccinated - meaning it has been at least two weeks since they received the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines - will be allowed to continue dining together in groups of five at certain F&B establishments.
These eateries must have systems to check the vaccination status of patrons.
Unvaccinated people with a valid negative pre-event test result, or those who have recovered from Covid-19 in the past 270 days, may also join such groups of up to five.
Children below the age of 12, who are not eligible for vaccination, can also join groups of five without the need for pre-event testing if they are from the same household as the other diners.
If the children are not from the same household, they should not constitute more than half the group, the MOH said.
For eateries that do not enforce SafeEntry check-ins such as hawker centres and foodcourts, group sizes will be capped at two, as it is difficult to check the vaccination status of all diners.
Cinemas can allow groups of five if no food and drinks are served.
2. Aggressive ring-fencing of cases and potential contacts
SafeEntry data will be used to aggressively ring-fence cases linked to the KTV cluster.
Anyone identified as having visited hot spots at the same time as a confirmed Covid-19 case will receive an SMS health risk warning. They will be legally required to get tested at a designated testing centre and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
They must also limit their interactions with others for 14 days from their last exposure, and undergo a second test at the end of this period.
Health risk alerts will also be sent to those who visited the locations with nightlight establishments operating as F&B outlets. While not legally obligated to get tested, they will be encouraged to monitor their health as a precaution.
The MOH said anyone who visited such nightlife establishments or interacted with social hostesses between June 29 and July 15 should come forward for a free swab test.
3. All nightlife establishments that pivoted to other businesses to suspend operations
A number of clusters have been detected in multiple karaoke lounges and nightclubs that had pivoted to operate as food and beverage (F&B) establishments.
Some errant establishments abused the system by operating clandestine and illegal activities, the MOH said.
For a two-week period, from Friday till July 30, the operations of all nightlight establishments that were allowed to operate as F&B establishments will be suspended.
More than 400 such establishments will be notified individually. The MOH said inspections of safe management protocols will be conducted to ensure they are being properly implemented before these establishments will be allowed to resume operating as F&B outlets.
4. No change for wedding receptions
Wedding receptions can continue at the current group size of up to five people per table, without the requirement for all individuals in the group to be fully vaccinated.
There will be no change to pre-event testing requirements. Pre-event testing is required for all attendees for events with up to 250 attendees.
If the event has up to 50 attendees, only the wedding party, which usually consists of the couple and their bridesmaids and groomsmen, has to undergo pre-event testing.
The MOH said wedding couples have faced significant uncertainties over the past few months, and it is allowing such events to continue under current measures so that couples do not need to revise their plans again.
5. Cap on indoor sports activities reduced to two, with a class size of up to 30
The cap on group sizes for high-intensity activities that involve participants removing their masks will be reduced from five to two, with classes capped at 30 people, including the instructor, down from 50.
The cap will remain at five if all individuals in the class are vaccinated, recovered or have a valid negative Covid-19 test result.
There is no change for outdoor activities, which remain capped at groups of five, with classes of up to 50 people.
Activities that involve children aged 12 and below, who are not vaccinated, will remain capped at groups of two, with class sizes of up to 30.
6. Ban on social gatherings at workplaces from July 19 to Aug 8
Social and recreational gatherings at workplaces will no longer be allowed from next Monday and any work-related events that take place in person should continue to avoid serving food and drinks.
Working from home remains the default arrangement, the MOH said.
7. Further extension of Jobs Support Scheme
The MOH said the 10 per cent wage support being offered under the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) will be extended for affected sectors from July 26 till Aug 8.
This is because tightened safe management measures will remain in place until then.
Eligible businesses include licensed F&B businesses, gyms, fitness studios, performing arts organisations and arts education centres.
Self-employed hawkers in hawker centres managed by the National Environment Agency (NEA), or which are operated by NEA-appointed operators, will also get a one-month extension of rental waivers and fee subsidies for table cleaning and dishwashing services.