COVID-19: Work from work, visit fuller theaters and worship halls again in Singapore

Back in the before-times, people worked happily in the same space. Photo: Brooke Cagle
Back in the before-times, people worked happily in the same space. Photo: Brooke Cagle

With COVID-19 cases outside of worker dorms and abroad slowing to fewer than five per day this month, Singapore seems ready to enter the final phase of its reopening of the economy.

Citing its calibrated approach, the COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce yesterday announced that more employees can return to the workplace next week and that from next month, movie theatres and places of worship can increase capacity while children under 6 will no longer be required to wear masks.

Employers allowing more staff to return to the workplace will be subject to further conditions. They must allow employees to continue working from home for at least half of their working time and limit the number of staff on the premises to no more than half at any given time.

The taskforce suggested implementing flexible working hours so that employees can work from home during peak periods or introduce shifts so that they can work in separate teams. 

From Oct. 3, the taskforce will allow up to 100 people at a place of worship, split into two groups of 50. The same applies to attendees at wedding receptions. Safe distancing measures and frequent cleaning and disinfection of the premises are still required. 

From Oct. 1, cinema halls are allowed to accommodate up to 50% of their capacity but no more than 150 in three segregated zones.

The age requirement for masks has been raised from 2 to 6, with face shields suggested for those younger.

Business travel will be allowed for those who need to do so regularly for official and business purposes. Travelers must abide by a strict controlled itinerary and get tested for COVID-19 upon return and self-isolate until the results are out.

Education Minister Lawrence Wong said yesterday that Singapore can expect to hear from the government in the coming weeks for progress on the third phase, the last until a vaccine is available.

“We are already working out the roadmap towards phase 3.” Wong said. “We have some plans on how this can be done in the subsequent weeks and when we are ready we can share these plans with Singaporeans but we really need everyone to cooperate and do their part so that together we can have a safe progressive resumption of activities.” 

Yesterday, Singapore logged 12 new cases, though four were imported from abroad. The official count has 57,639 infections and 27 deaths since the outbreak began in January.

Phase 2 measures have been in effect since June after Singapore exited its so-called circuit-breaker phase in May.

Other stories you should check out:

Singapore trials nose-jabbing robot for COVID-19 tests

2020 Hindsight: PM Lee gives mixed marks to Singapore’s COVID response

COVID-19 cases re-emerge in Singapore’s dorms with 15 new clusters

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