Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it’s here: After almost two years, Singapore will finally be back to normal from 26 April 2022.
COVID-19 might finally be a distant memory instead of something we talk about regularly.
Today, our future PM, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, held a COVID-19 press conference together with Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, Trade & Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong and Director of Medical Services (DMS) of the Ministry of Health (MOH) A/Prof Kenneth Mak to deliver probably the best news that we’ve heard in the last two years.
Here’s what you must know before you celebrate on 26 April 2022.
Updates About Situation
Well, the fact that you might not even know how many COVID-19 cases were reported yesterday shows that the daily cases are in the healthy range.
Daily case numbers and COVID-19 hospitalisations had declined steadily in the past week. More importantly, the number of hospitalisations has fallen from 1,726 at its peak to 266. COVID-19 related Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients is now in single digits
The incidence of severe illness has also remained low.
Singapore is Finally Stepping Down to DORSCON Yellow
Remember how Singaporeans decided to hoard toilet paper after Singapore raised its DORSCON to Orange?
Yeah, me neither.
Given the improving local situation, with daily cases falling and stabilising; the impact of the disease has been mitigated by high levels of vaccination; and the disease is typically mild, except in the unvaccinated and vulnerable groups such as the elderly ; and the progressive easing of SMMs, the DORSCON level will finally be adjusted from Orange to Yellow.
But that’s not important…what you want to know is the easing of SMM Framework 1-5
Recap on the SMM Framework 1-5
If you prefer to watch a video instead, watch this short video to know more about the SMM Framework 1-5:
Basically, easing of measures will be separated into five main areas: Group Sizes, Mask-Wearing, Workplace Requirements, Safe Distancing and Capacity limit.
Today, there are changes to four areas—except mask-wearing.
All these changes will take effect from 26 April 2022.
Group Size: What’s That?
There will no longer be a group size limit, meaning that individuals will not be required to keep to a group of 10 persons for mask-off activities. The cap on the number of unique visitors per household, previously 10 persons at any one time, will also be lifted.
This means this measure is completely ease off.
The Only Bad News: Everyone Can Go Back to the Office
All workers may now return to the workplace, an increase from the current limit of 75% of those who can work from home.
What’s interesting is that notwithstanding the mask-on requirement in indoor settings, workers will be allowed to remove their masks at the workplace if they
- are not interacting physically with others
- are not in customer-facing areas.
As group size limits are lifted, safe distancing will no longer be required between individuals or between groups. Pretty sure we’ll take some time to get used to this.
Similarly, this measure is therefore eased off completely.
No More Capacity Limits
Previously, larger settings/events with >1,000 pax and that are mask-on were subject to a capacity limit of 75%. This this capacity limit for such settings/events will be removed.
Yeah, this measure is no longer active, too.
Now, other than SMM Framework 1-5, there are even more news that’ll make you cheer louder.
VDS Will Be Removed in These Settings
From 26 April 2022, VDS will be removed from all settings, except for:
– Events with >500 participants at any one time;
– Nightlife establishments where dancing among patrons is one of the intended activities
– Food and beverage (F&B) establishments, including restaurants, coffee shops and hawker centres
This means that for people who refuse to take their vaccines, they can finally step into a shopping mall.
For F&B establishments, while VDS is required, they will no longer need to conduct VDS checks for their customers. Instead, random spot-checks will continue to be conducted to ensure that only fully vaccinated persons are dining in at F&B establishments.
Workforce Vaccination Measures Will be Lifted
Well, pretty sure people who’ve not been vaccinated and couldn’t work remotely are already out of job, but nevertheless, from 26 April 2022, Workforce Vaccination Measures (WVM) implemented by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will be lifted.
However, tripartite partners have agreed that employers should have the flexibility to continue implementing vaccination-related instructions for employees for workplace health and safety and business continuity reasons, and in accordance with employment law. MOM will provide further details.
Health Risk Notices Will Be History
MOH will stop issuing HRNs to close contacts from 26 April 2022. Also, individuals infected with COVID-19 will no longer need to submit details of household contacts online.
However, settings with vulnerable persons (e.g. hospitals, nursing homes and elderly homes) should request proof of a negative Antigen Rapid Test (ART) result for persons with recent exposure before allowing entry.
Goodbye, TraceTogether & SafeEntry
You probably didn’t know this, but TraceTogether and SafeEntry are used primarily for VDS purposes nowadays. Watch this and you’ll understand:
With no more VDS in most settings, TraceTogether and SafeEntry will mostly be inactive. However, please keep them: remember, there are still places that have VDS like F&B and nightlife establishments.
No More Free Community ART Testing & Weekend Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) Testing at the Combined Test Centres (CTCs) & Quick Test Centres (QTCs)
With the declining case numbers and easing of load at the Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs), these free tests will cease from 26 April 2022 onwards. Paid ART testing will still be available for members of the public at the CTCs/QTCs, GP clinics or via tele-ART providers.
Removal of Pre-Departure Test Requirements
All fully vaccinated travellers and non-fully vaccinated children aged 12 and below arriving from 26 April 2022, 0001 hours via air or sea checkpoints, will no longer be required to take a PDT before departing for Singapore. With this move, it will mean that fully vaccinated and well travellers will not require any tests to enter Singapore.
Previously, that is only for land travel.
In addition, from 1 May 2022, fully vaccinated non-Malaysian Work Permit Holders no longer need to apply for entry approvals to enter Singapore.
Resumption of Cross-Border Bus Services and Taxis with Malaysia
Starting from 1 May 2022, Singapore bus operators will reinstate cross-border bus services between Singapore and Johor Bahru. These include Services 160, 170 and 170X operated by SBS Transit Ltd, Service 950 operated by SMRT Buses Ltd, and Services TS1, TS3, TS6 and TS8 operated by Transtar Travel Pte Ltd.
Cross-border taxi operations will also resume from 1 May 2022. Commuters travelling to Johor can either board a taxi at the Queen Street taxi terminal or book one through taxi companies with licensed cross-border taxi drivers.
So, what does this mean for Singapore?
Come 26 April 2022, Singapore is back in business.
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