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Work from home will no longer be the default from January 1 with up to 50 per cent of workers being allowed back into the office

This story was first published on June 18, 2021, and updated on December 13, 2021. 


As Singapore continues to push towards making Covid-19 endemic, it has announced that more measures will be loosened as our vaccination-differentiated safe measures also get expanded. 

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These new loosened restrictions state that work from home will no longer be the default from January 1, that work-related events can have more participants and more. 

Vaccination Differentiated Safe Management measures (VDS) for Covid-19 will also be expanded from February 1 to cover more areas such as indoor sports facilities, Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), and leisure guests in hotels, hostels and serviced apartments.

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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1. Work from home is no longer the default

Working from home is no longer the default for employees who are fully vaccinated or who have recently recovered from Covid-19.

In fact, from January 1, 50 per cent of employees who can work from home will be allowed to return to the office, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH) on December 14.

This comes as workforce vaccination measures that state that unvaccinated employees are not allowed to return to their workplaces unless they test negative for Covid-19 come into effect on January 1.

Unvaccinated individuals who have recovered from Covid-19 will also get a 180-day exemption to enter vaccination differentiated settings such as malls, restaurants and workplaces. This is down from 270 days.  

Working from home has been the default since September this year so this announcement is certainly a step forward for the country. 

Covid-19 multi-ministry task force co-chair Gan Kim Yong said on December 14 that authorities recognise that work from home is “not ideal and not sustainable in the long run, as face-to-face interaction is important for team dynamics, as well as other operational considerations”.

That said, social gatherings at the workplace will continue to not be allowed. 

Work-related events though will see their cap of 50 people raised in due course. However, this will only apply to events where all participants remain masked and seated at a safe distance from each other. They will also need to meet all VDS requirements. 

2. Vaccination differentiated safe management measures will be expanded

Vaccination differentiated safe management measures (VDS) for Covid-19 will also be expanded from February 1.

Under the expanded restrictions, all VDS will cover indoor sports facilities, Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), and leisure guests in hotels, hostels and serviced apartments.

“However, students in institutes of higher learning who are completing their full-time NITEC/Higher NITEC, Diploma or Degree programmes will be exempted from the VDS measures requirement when entering their respective educational institutions,” said MOH.

More details on this will be released soon. 

Additionally, from February 1, all events, no matter their size, must implement VDS to proceed, according to MOH. 

This is because “even smaller-sized events can spark transmission that can then spread to wider groups of people, especially in view of the Omicron variant,” said MOH.

However, in an attempt to minimise disruptions, authorities “will remove the existing concession only in end January 2022”.

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3. If you are fully vaccinated and from the same household, you can dine out in groups of five

Fully vaccinated individuals who are from the same household can now dine out in groups of five from November 10, according to the co-chair of the multi-ministry Covid-19 task force, Gan Kim Yong, in a press conference on November 8.

However, if you are not from the same household, the dine-in cap will continue to remain at two vaccinated individuals, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH). The cap will also remain at two vaccinated individuals if you are dining at hawker centres and coffee shops.

Currently, only people who are fully vaccinated can dine in at hawker centres and coffee shops, and enter shopping malls and attractions.

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 as well as enter malls and hawker centres. 

If you are unvaccinated, you will still be able to get take-away food as well as access medical and childcare services in malls as long as you have a letter of support or proof of a medical appointment.

Additionally, food and beverage outlets will once again be allowed to play “soft recorded music”. However, live music and entertainment will continue to remain banned for the time being. 

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4. 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 October 9. 

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.

Individuals who test positive for the Omicron variant will also be required to isolate themselves in a dedicated facility. 

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5. 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 as long as you are vaccinated from February 1.

For all indoor high-intensity classes, you will need to keep at least a two-meter distance between other people. This is down from three meters. You should also not mingle between groups. 

Classes will be capped at 30 people in groups of up to two provided that everyone in the group is fully vaccinated. 

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

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6. 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 50 people in attendance for marriage solemnizations in external venues if there is no pre-event testing (PET). You will be able to have up to 1,000 attendees if there is PET for all unvaccinated attendees who have not recovered from Covid-19 in the past.

Wedding receptions at external venus are allowed 250 attendees with PET for all unvaccinated attendees who have not recovered from Covid-19 in the past.

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

In addition to this, large-scale events can now have zones of up to 100 attendees. This is up from 50. There will need to be at least a two-meter distance between each zone though. This is down from the current three meters. 

If there are live performances or worship going on, performers need to maintain at least a two-meter distance between themselves and the audience. 

Static performers will be allowed to be in groups of two without the need to maintain safe distancing within the group. They should stay at least one meter away from other groups though.

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7. 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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8. 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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