Employees who have been allowed to return to their workplaces from 28 September should still continue working from home for at least half of their working time, Singapore's Health Minister Gan Kim Yong has said.

At the same time, there should be no more than 50% of such employees at the workplace at any point in time, in order to "keep our workplaces safe and minimise crowding," he noted.

Minister Gan said this in response to a series of Parliamentary questions on Monday (5 October), where he was asked about the easing of COVID-19 measures in Singapore, and when to expect Phase Three of the country's reopening.

Taking these questions, Minister Gan highlighted the "significant moves" taken thus far in restoring both economic and social activities, including the return to workplaces, the resumption of a few "very targeted and specific areas" such as weddings and religious activities, the resumption of physical exercises classes in common spaces, and more.

Moving forward, in response to questions on the further easing of measures, for instance in social and dining group size limits, he said if everyone continues to work together and keep their guard up even as more activities resume, "we will be able to keep the pandemic under control, and progress towards further opening up our economy and society steadily."

"For instance, we could consider allowing for general group sizes larger than five, so that larger families or groups of friends could meet and have meals together. We are particularly concerned about dining as we need to remove our masks so as to eat and drink, but we tend to also talk at the same time.

"The risk is considerably higher than activities which we can keep our masks on and maintain a safe distance."

Additionally, he pointed out that Singapore has begun piloting events and activities that hold a large number of attendees, such as trade exhibitions, conferences and religious workshop, to assess if effective precautions and safe distancing measures can be maintained.

"If these pilots are successful, we will be able to use the lessons learnt to allow more large-scale events to proceed."

In line with the above, on when the country will move towards Phase Three of reopening, Minister Gan said the Multi-Ministry Taskforce is currently working on a roadmap towards this phase, with more details to be shared in the coming weeks.

Photo / 123RF

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