phase two

Per the latest regulations, applicable until 13 June 2021, employers have also been asked to ensure there is no cross-deployment of workers to multiple worksites. 

On 14 May 2021, Singapore’s Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) has announced a host of new regulations to be implemented in light of the number of locally transmitted as well as unlinked community COVID-19 continuing to increase.

Termed as ‘Phase 2 (Heightened Alert)’, employers need to take note of the following new regulations effective 16 May to 13 June 2021:

  • Work-from-home will be the default at workplaces. Employers must ensure that employees who are able to work from home do so.
  • There should continue to be no cross-deployment of workers to multiple worksites.
  • Employers should continue to stagger start times of employees who need to return to the workplace and implement flexible working hours.
  • Social gatherings at the workplace will not be allowed.
  • Employees may have meal breaks at the workplace, but must refrain from intermingling with their colleagues when their masks are taken off.

Aimed at minimising workplace interactions, the Ministry of Health stated: “These measures will lower transmission risks by reducing overall footfall and interactions at common spaces at or near the workplace, and in public places, including public transport.”

Further tightened measures to arrest the number of community cases

Phase Two (Heightened Alert), for starters, will be affecting most social gatherings: the current permissible group size of up to five persons is reduced to up to two persons. With house visitors likewise limited to two per day. Other affected activities include weddings and funerals with the former having wedding receptions prohibited; the latter having ceremony attendees reduced from 30 to only 20.

MICE and live events are, however, permitted with pre-event testing (PET). Corporate and event heads can take note: not more than 100 persons are allowed with PET; and not more than 50 persons are allowed without.

Dining-in at all F&B outlets will also be ceased with the implementation of Phase Two (Heightened Alert). Establishments will only offer takeaway or delivery options.

To support business owners affected by the cessation of dining-in at F&B establishments, the JSS support rate will be increased to 50% (of the first S$4,600 of gross monthly wages paid to local employees) during this period - an increase from the 10% support for wages paid up to June 2021.

For those who are self-employed, the government will waive one month of rental for hawker and coffeeshop tenants of government agencies.

Other than providing updates to restriction measures, Phase Two (Heightened Alert) also introduced a new Covid-19 test kit for Singaporeans: the Antigen Rapid Testing (ART). This is to test those diagnosed with Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI), a symptom of Covid-19 virus.

For the unacquainted, ART will not replace the currently used Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. ART is instead used in tandem with PCR to enhance health authorities’ testing strategy. The difference between both methods is the turnaround time for Covid-19 results: with ART typically taking up to approximately 30 minutes, while PCR taking up to two days.

For the general public, here are additional Phase Two (Heightened Alert) details to take note of:

  1. Further reductions in permissible group size: The current permissible group size is reduced from five to two persons. Each household has a cap of two distinct visitors per day. Individuals should continue to limit their overall number of social gatherings to two per day.
  2. Cessation of indoor “mask-off” activities: Dine-in F&B establishments will cease during this period. Other prohibited activities include in- and outdoor exercise class or sports activities. Personalised services that requires removal of masks, like facials and saunas, will also not be allowed. These restrictions will not apply to medical and dental consultations, however.
  3. Reduction of activity and event sizes and pre-event testing (PET) requirements:
    1. Congregational and other worship services may continue with a reduced capacity of 100 attendees at any one time with PET, and 50 attendees without.
    2. Attractions, museums, and libraries’ operating capacity will be reduced to 25% from the previously permissible capacity of 50%. Indoor and outdoor shows, cinemas, MICE, and live events may proceed with the same restrictions as above for congregational services.
    3. Wedding receptions are not allowed. Marriage solemnisations are, however, permitted with the same restrictions in 3.1 with and without PET.
    4. Funerals may continue with a reduced capacity of 20 persons from the previously permissible 30 persons.
  4. Stop use of face shields: Face shields should not be used as a substitute for masks. Except for medical exceptions; or where the child is 12 years or younger; or for couples during marriage solemnisation.

Lead photo / 123RF

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