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The country will be moving into the second stage of Phase 3 (Heightened Alert) from July 12. Here are the key things you need to know

THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED ON JUNE 10, 2021, AND UPDATED ON JULY 7, 2021.

The news we have been waiting for is finally here. Singapore will be lifting some of the stringent restrictions it imposed on the country during Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) and the first phase of Phase 3 (Heightened Alert) by allowing people to dine in with groups of up to five people from July 12, according to the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 which held a virtual press conference on July 7.

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In moving into Phase 3 (Heightened Alert), Singapore has been adopting a cautious and slow approach which is why the country chose to open up in stages. Dining in was limited to only two people from June 21 till now.

Despite the easing of rules, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has said that working from home will continue to be the default. This is so that overall traffic and public interactions can be reduced at workplaces and in public transport. That said, in time to come, the government hopes to be able to allow more workers to return to the workplace depending on if they are vaccinated or not.

"Even as we progressively resume more activities, I urge everyone to remain vigilant," said Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong, who co-chairs the Covid-19 task force at the press conference on June 10. "We may continue to see a few cases every day, but that's the nature of the virus. What we hope and aim to do is to keep the number low overall and avoid large clusters." 

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Aside from increasing the size of social gatherings, Singapore will also be increasing the operating capacity limits for attractions, cruises, museums and public libraries. The capacity will increase from 25 per cent to 50 per cent. 

The capacity for events such as movie screenings, live performances, worship services and marriage solemnisations will also be increased though pre-event testing will be required for any event that exceeds 50 attendees. Wedding receptions for up to 250 people will also be allowed to resume.

If you are missing the gyms, don't worry because MOH has said that gyms and fitness studios will be able to resume indoor mask-off sports activities. In fact, they can now conduct indoor sports and exercise classes for up to 50 people.

At the virtual press conference, the ministers also added that restrictions could continue to be eased provided that the situation remains stable and that at least half of the population gets vaccinated. 

In fact, the task force is expecting at least 50 per cent of the population to have had both their vaccine doses done by the week of July 26.

"Once we reach 50 per cent, it'll be timely for us to have a more definitive roadmap to transit towards living with endemic Covid-19," said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung.

The task force also added that the cap for social gatherings could be increased to eight people while the audience size could be increased to 500 people for events such as cinema screenings, congregational worship, Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) events, live performances, spectator sports and wedding solemnizations. This is provided that all participants are fully vaccinated.

They could also consider allowing groups of eight to dine out in time to come and as more people get vaccinated. Considering that these are higher-risk activities, group sizes will remain at five people for now.

"If you have been vaccinated, you get good protection against the infection and against severe illness and therefore, you don't need to have such strict measures applied to a vaccinated person or to groups of vaccinated persons," said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong.

He added that he hoped this would encourage more people to get their vaccinations done and to move up their appointments to get vaccinated earlier. 

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