Singapore eased a series of COVID-19 rules following a Ministry of Health (MOH) multi-ministry task force meet on 22 April. The easing of the restrictions was done considering the improved COVID-19 situation in the country. Most of these come into force starting 26 April.
The relaxations benefit non-Malaysian work permit holders, people who participate in or hold large group gatherings, office workers, cross-border bus and taxi operators, and fully vaccinated travellers arriving in Singapore.
Singapore decides to further ease the country’s COVID-19 rules
No pre-departure test for fully vaccinated travellers
Fully vaccinated travellers coming into Singapore via air or sea will not have to take the pre-departure COVID-19 test starting 26 April.
The decision to remove the requirement extends to non-fully vaccinated children aged 12 and below.
Currently, vaccinated travellers who take the air or sea route are required to take a pre-departure test — a rapid antigen test or a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) — within two days before arriving in Singapore.
There is no relaxation in rules for those who are not fully vaccinated and are aged 13 and above. Thus, they will have to take a pre-departure test within two days before arriving in Singapore. Additionally, they will have to complete a seven-day stay-at-home period and take a PCR test before the end of the period.
The MOH said this means that all those who are inoculated won’t require “any tests to enter Singapore”.
Rules eased for fully vaccinated non-Malaysian workers
In its announcement, the MOH also said that non-Malaysian work permit holders who are fully vaccinated will be able to enter Singapore without applying for entry approvals starting 1 May.
The new relaxation is for those who hold an in-principle approval in the construction, marine shipyard and process sectors.
The workers will, however, have to book a slot to undergo onboarding upon arrival. This is a process which covers things such as medical examinations, vaccination verification and a settling-in programme, and can take up to four days.
As of now, the workers of the three sectors need to get entry approvals from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
LTPHs cannot enter Singapore if not fully vaccinated
Except for those who are medically exempt from vaccines, have other valid entry approval, or are between the ages of 13 and 17, Long-Term Pass Holders (LTPHs) who are not fully vaccinated cannot enter Singapore.
The rule also applies to Short-Term Visitors (STVs) aged 13 and above.
Starting 1 July, all LTPHs, except those medically exempted from vaccination, must be fully vaccinated to enter Singapore.
Limits removed from large social gatherings
Limits on large groups in social gatherings with over 1,000 attendees will be completely removed starting 26 April.
The MOH’s multi-ministry task force also said there will be no requirement of safe distancing between individuals or groups. However, nightlife businesses where dancing among patrons is an activity will continue with 75 percent capacity.
Limits removed from normal gatherings
There will be no need to limit to 10 persons for mask-off activities starting 26 April. Attendance limits on household activities, marriages at home and other home-related group activities will also be lifted.
Mask wearing in indoor setting to continue
The wearing of masks will continue to be in place in indoor settings and on public transport. Additionally, the MOH advised that people should wear masks even in outdoor settings even though it is optional.
All workers can return to offices
Starting 26 April, all employees can return to their workplaces. This will be an increase from the current limit of 75 percent who can work from home.
Irrespective of the setting, workers can remove their masks if they are not interacting with anyone or not in areas where customer interaction takes place.
DORSCON level brought down
At the same time, a decision has been taken for the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level to be brought down from orange to yellow starting 26 April.
The city-state has been at the orange level since 7 February 2020.
The lowering of the level is the clearest sign of the improved COVID-19 situation in Singapore.
Resumption of Singapore-Malaysia bus, taxi services
Bus and taxi services between Singapore and Malaysia will resume on 1 May. The MOH said that operations will be restarted by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), together with the public transport operators.
Cross-border bus and taxi services have remained suspended for about two years. The decision to resume operations comes days after the land borders between Malaysia and Singapore were opened.
VDS eased, no health risk notice to be issued
In another significant development, the MOH has decided to ease the vaccination-differentiated safe management measures (VDS) starting 26 April at all settings except events with over 500 participants, nightlife establishments where dancing is an intended activity, and food and beverage establishments.
The government will also stop issuing health risk notices to close contacts of COVID-19 positive cases and will step down the use of contact tracing measures TraceTogether and SafeEntry.
(Main and Featured images: engin akyurt/@enginakyurt/Unsplash)