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Singapore's Stabilisation Phase will be extended to November 21 as the country battles growing Covid-19 infections and pressures on our healthcare system

This story was first published on June 18, 2021, and updated on October 21, 2021. 

Singapore will be extending all current Covid-19 restrictions for another month in order to stabilise the situation, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH).

The restrictions which started on September 27 were scheduled to end on October 24. Unfortunately, Singapore is continuing to see a significant uptick of community cases with infections skyrocketing to over 3,000. Covid-19 deaths have also increased and hospitals are seeing an increase in bed capacity as they attempt to control the infections.  

As a result, the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 has announced new measures to keep the situation under control. 

These new rules include reducing dine-in group sizes to two, simplifying quarantine rules and not allowing the unvaccinated to dine out at hawker centres and enter malls. 

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This is in an attempt to buy Singapore more time to get more people vaccinated and to slow down the rate of transmission without us having to go back to a state of heightened alert or a circuit breaker, according to Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 on September 6. 

Considering the many changes in our Covid-19 regulations recently and the differences in rules for the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, we’ve made it easy for you to figure out what you can and cannot do. Keep reading for all the other regulations that have come into effect to manage the pandemic. 

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Unvaccinated individuals can no longer dine-in at hawker centres or enter malls

From October 13, only people who are fully vaccinated can dine in at hawker centres and coffee shops, and enter shopping malls and attractions, according to the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 at a media conference on Saturday after Prime Minister Lee’s national address.  This includes large standalone stores that are not supermarkets.

The group size limit for dining in at all food and beverage outlets will also remain at two vaccinated people. 

Children aged 12 years and below as well as recovered individuals, and unvaccinated individuals with a valid negative pre-event test result can be included in the group of two.

If you are unvaccinated, you will still be able to get take-away food.

“We are aware of concerns raised by the public with regard to the need for some unvaccinated individuals to access medical and childcare related services in the malls. Provisions will be made to allow for access to these services,” said authorities. 

They added that shopping malls will get a grace period of a week from October 13 to implement these vaccination-differentiated safe management measures.

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Quarantine orders will be done away with

To better manage Covid-19 clusters, quarantine orders and leave of absence notices will be done away with. Instead, a simpler set of rules will be introduced from October 11. 

This is so that the protocols will be easier to understand and so government resources are not overburdened. 

“If we restrict large numbers of people every day over prolonged periods to weed out the last tail risk, it is actually not sustainable,” said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung at a press conference on Saturday.

Under the new rules, there will only be three protocols. These will apply to people who have symptoms and test positive, those with no symptoms but test positive, and close contacts of a positive case.

If a person has Covid-19 symptoms, they should see a doctor. If they test positive for Covid-19, they are to stay home and wait for instructions from the Ministry of Health (MOH).

If the individual is fully vaccinated, they can return to normal life after 10 days. If they are not, they can return to normal life after 14 days. 

They will also receive an electronic discharge memo at the end of the isolation period.

If a person tests positive but has no symptoms, they need only self-isolate for 72 hours. If they test negative after this, they can resume their normal activities. They are not required to see a doctor but should test themselves regularly and self-isolate till they get a negative result. 

If a person is a close contact of a Covid-19 case, they will get a health risk warning. They will be required to get antigen rapid test (ART) kits and monitor their own health for seven days. They are free to leave their homes as long as they test negative. 

That said, official quarantine facilities will still be made available for those who cannot safely isolate themselves at home.

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In-person visits to residential care homes have been suspended

After a spike in Covid-19 cases among employees, clients and residents of residential care homes, MOH announced that all in-person visits to residential care homes will be suspended from September 13. 

“With the number of cases expected to continue to rise in the coming weeks, we need to take further action to protect the vulnerable seniors in these settings,” the ministry said. 

Visits were originally suspended till October 11 but recently, it was extended by another two weeks to October 24. 

Residents of aged care facilities will also be invited to receive Covid-19 vaccine booster shots from September 14. 

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Work from home is now the default

Working from home will once again be the default for employees who are able to do so from September 27 to October 24. 

During this time, the 10-day snap work from home regulation will be suspended. 

“There should continue to be no cross-deployment of workers to multiple worksites for those who need to go into worksites to work. Social gatherings at the workplace will continue to be disallowed. Employers should continue to implement flexible working hours and stagger the start times of employees who need to return to the workplace,” said MOH.

Employees, contractors, and vendors who cannot work from home are strongly encouraged to self-test weekly using ART tests.

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Hospital visits will be suspended for four weeks

All visits to hospital wards will be suspended for four weeks from September 24 as a result of the increase in Covid-19 cases among staff, patients and visitors.

“With the rise in Covid-19 cases in the community, more Covid-19 cases have been detected amongst hospital staff, patients and visitors,” said MOH in a news release on September 22. 

“The detection of these cases had led to ward closures and staff quarantine which had impacted some hospitals, putting strain on hospital bed capacity and staffing at a time when more hospital beds are ramped up to care for hospitalised Covid-19 patients,” it continued. 

These measures are being taken to ensure that hospital capacity does not get overwhelmed. 

Of course, exceptions will be made on a conditional, case-by-case basis for patients who are in critical condition, paediatric patients, birthing or post-partum mothers and patients requiring additional care support from caregivers.

Up to five visitors will be allowed for patients who are in critical condition and only a maximum of two people can be at the patient’s bedside at any one time.

The other groups will be allowed only one visitor with one visit per day, according to MOH.

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Indoor, mask-off sports will resume

If you can’t wait to get back into activities at gyms and fitness studios, the good news is that indoor mask-off high-intensity activities will continue to be allowed. They will be capped at 30 people in groups of up to two provided that everyone in the group is fully vaccinated. 

Indoor mask-on activities and all outdoor activities will be capped at 50 people in groups of two no matter what your vaccination status is. 

There should be no in-person classes for students aged 12 and below.

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Wedding receptions and large-scale events will be allowed to have more attendees

If you are getting married soon, take note that, now, you are allowed to have up to 250 people in attendance provided that all people are vaccinated.

Group sizes will also continue to be limited to up to 5 people per table with no intermingling. 

For marriage solemnisations that take place outside the home or the Registry of Marriages, you can have up to 1000 people including the wedding couple. 

In addition to this, large-scale events can have up to 1000 attendees if all are vaccinated and 50 if they are not.

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Mandatory Safeentry check-ins will be imposed at markets

From July 19, the National Environment Agency (NEA) and town councils will be making Safeentry check-ins a requirement at markets to help with contact tracing and to ring-fence cases, according to MOH.

This means that once a market has reached a certain number of people, other customers will not be able to enter it. 

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Checking out using SafeEntry Gateway boxes will be implemented

Currently, most places use Safeentry Gateway boxes to allow people to check-in easily by tapping their phones or TraceTogether tokens.

Over the coming weeks, boxes that allow people to check out will be introduced to enable more precise contact tracing.

These boxes will be placed at areas with higher footfall such as malls, hospitals, gyms and food and beverage establishments. If your business is eligible for this, you will be notified.

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