As community cases remain low, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce will ease measures to facilitate business operations, by supporting essential business travel, and enabling more employees to return to the workplace. The capacity limits for worship services and wedding receptions will also be expanded.

Measures will be stepped up to support earlier detection of potential COVID cases and a safer living and working environment for all.

Essential travel through business travel pass pilot

There is a new pilot initiated for business travel pass for senior executives in Singapore with regional or international responsibilities who need to travel regularly for official and business purposes.

Travellers on this pass will be required to abide by a strict controlled itinerary when they travel overseas for work. Upon return, the traveller will be given the option of doing a COVID-19 test instead of Stay-Home Notice (SHN) and self-isolate until the COVID-19 test results are out.

To ensure that careful monitoring of the public health outcomes can be done for this pilot, the number of passes will be strictly limited in the initial phase. If the pilot is successful, and public health measures are fully abided by, the scheme can be expanded in a calibrated manner.

Enabling more employees to return to the workplace safely

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has updated the Requirements for Safe Management Measures (SMM) at the Workplace to continue to ensure safe workplaces for all. They will take effect on 28 September 2020.

WFH remains the default

Working from home (WFH) remains the default mode of working, but more employees may return to workplaces if employers fulfill two conditions:

  1. Such employees continue to WFH for at least half their working time
  2. No more than half of such employees are at the workplace at any point in time

With more employees returning to the workplace, employers should play their part in minimising crowding and possible congregation at common spaces, including on public transport. They can do so by:

  1. Implementing flexible workplace hours to allow employees who can, to work partly at home and partly at the workplace such that they travel outside of peak periods, e.g. blocks of 10am-4pm or 1-5pm in-office hours, or return to the workplace only for meetings and WFH the rest of the time
  2. Further staggering of reporting times such that half of all employees start work at or after 10am

Split team or shift arrangements must continue to be implemented, with each team restricted to one worksite where possible. Employers must also ensure clear separation of employees on different teams or shifts.

Business-oriented work events may resume

Work-related events within the workplace premises that are business-oriented (such as conferences, seminars, corporate retreats, Annual General Meetings and Extraordinary General Meetings) will be allowed to resume, for up to 50 persons (or lower depending on venue capacity based on safe management principles) with strict adherence to SMM requirements e.g. at least 1 metre safe distancing between each employee.

Allowing the resumption of work-related events at external venues will be considered at a later date. MOM will also release updates to the safe management measures for workplaces in certain areas (e.g. rules on staff having their meals at staff canteens).

As per existing guidelines, employers must not organise or encourage larger scale social gatherings within or outside the workplace such as parties, celebrations, team bonding activities, dinner-and-dance (D&D), and gala dinners.

Non-compliance with SMMs may result in penalties such as suspension of on-site operations, fines, and withholding of payouts for government support schemes and grants. More severe violations of SMMs may result in prosecution. The SnapSAFE app may continue to be used to report any breach of the requirements at the workplace.

Up to 100 persons permitted for worship services

From 3 October 2020, all religious organisations (ROs) will be allowed to conduct congregational and other worship services for up to 100 persons, subject to safe distancing and safe management measures in place.

Up to 100 attendees for marriage solemnisations and wedding receptions

From 3 October 2020, the current pilot for wedding receptions will be expanded to allow up to 100 unique attendees (including the wedding couple, excluding vendors and service providers) in total, subject to premise capacity.

Participants in a wedding can be split into multiple zones of up to 50 persons each, or split by staggered timings with up to 50 persons in each slot. There should be at least 30 minutes between slots for cleaning and disinfection of the event space.

The cap for marriage solemnisations will also be increased to 100 persons, split across multiple zones of up to 50 persons each.

Venue operators may impose a lower cap if they are unable to comply with the zoning or staggered timing requirements. Video link solemnisations will continue to be offered as an option for couples. More details on the safe management measures are available on https://covid.gobusiness.gov.sg/safemanagement/sector.

Starting in November 2020, there will be a new pilot that allows wedding receptions organised by a registered wedding organiser to take place at Housing Development Board (HDB) common areas, such as void decks and Multi-Purpose Halls managed by Town Councils. Further details, including the commencement date for this initiative, will be released at a later date.

Meanwhile, couples can consider holding their events at function rooms and multi-purpose halls at community centres/ clubs, which have been made available for wedding celebrations at affordable rates.

Gradual expansion of cinema capacities

From 1 Oct 2020, large cinema halls (with more than 300 seats) will be allowed to have up to three zones of up to 50 patrons each. Other cinema halls would also be permitted to increase their capacity to 50% of their original operating capacity, or maintain the current limit of up to 50 patrons per hall, subject to the relevant safe management measures.

Update on COVID-19 testing for specific community groups

The Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Health Promotion Board (HPB), together with other government agencies, have commenced voluntary COVID-19 testing operations for taxi and Private Hire Car (PHC) drivers, and launched a pilot for stallholders at hawker centres, markets and coffeeshops in Marine Parade Constituency, as well as selected groups of food delivery personnel. These testing operations were conducted at temporary swab sites in the community (e.g. taxi depots) and HPB’s Regional Screening Centres (RSCs).

All drivers, stallholders and food delivery personnel who have participated in these voluntary testing exercises have thus far tested negative for COVID-19. Details on the roll-out of COVID-19 testing for stallholders and food delivery personnel will be made known when ready.

Children above the age of 6 need to wear masks

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) have issued their guidance that young children below the age of 6 years may not have the coordination necessary for the proper use of masks. Hence, consistent adult supervision is recommended to ensure appropriate and safe use of masks by these young children.

Singapore’s current guidelines allow for greater flexibility on mask use for young children, and permit children 12 years old and below to use a face shield in place of a mask. These are already consistent with WHO and UNICEF’s recommendations but not fully reflected in Singapore’s current laws. Therefore, the legal cut-off age for children to wear masks will be adjusted to 6 years old and above, up from the current 2 years old and above.

To protect young children from COVID-19, young children are strongly encouraged to use a mask or face shield, especially if they are in a group setting (e.g. in preschool) or when interacting with others.

Full details: www.moh.gov.sg/news-highlights/details/resuming-more-activities-safely