12 Must-Know Updates from 6 Aug COVID-19 Press Conference

Yesterday (5 August 2021), Finance Minister and Co-Chair of the Multi-Ministry Task Force in the fight against COVID-19, Lawrence Wong, said on Facebook that the task force will be giving an update about the COVID-19 situation soon, even when the measures are supposed to last until 18 August.

Just like experts who often managed to predict what the Government’s next move is, we also predicted that there would be an update either yesterday or today, and we were all right.

Here are the updates you need to know from today’s (6 August) press conference.

Increase in Social Gathering Group Size

The social gathering group size limit will be increased from 2 persons to 5 persons, and the cap of 2 distinct visitors per household per day will be increased to 5 distinct visitors per household per day from 10 August 2021.

Unvaccinated individuals should remain in groups of no more than 2 persons, to reduce the likelihood of transmission and severe infection. MOH also advises us to limit our social circle to a small group of regular contacts and limit the number of social gatherings to no more than two a day.

Can Dine In in Eatery for Fully Vaccinated People

Yes, only for fully vaccinated people. But you can still dine in in certain places if you’re unvaccinated.

From 10 August 2021, groups of up to 5 persons will be allowed to dine-in at F&B establishments if all the diners are fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated children aged 12 years and below may be included within the group of 5 persons as long as all the children are from the same household.

Hawker Centre & Coffee Shops Have Different Set of Rules

As these are open-air and naturally ventilated spaces, MOH will extend a special concession for both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons to dine in the hawker centres and coffee shops.

But this will be subject to a smaller group size of up to 2 persons only.

This will also take effect from 10 August 2021.

Updates to Who is Considered Vaccinated

Now, how about people who took the Sinovac vaccines? Are they considered vaccinated? Can they dine in groups of five?

MOH has confirmed that these include individuals who are fully vaccinated with the World Health Organisation’s Emergency Use Listing vaccines such as Sinovac-CoronaVac, Sinopharm, and AstraZenec (not available in Singapore, though).

But of course, just like people taking the mRNA vaccines, they’ll have to wait for two weeks after the second dose to be considered fully vaccinated.

Unvaccinated individuals with a valid negative pre-event test result or recovered individuals are of similarly lower risk, and may also join in such groups of up to 5.

Increase in Capacity Limit from 10 August 2021

From 10 August 2021, event sizes may increase to 500 attendees if all are fully vaccinated. Otherwise, only up to 50 attendees will be allowed without pre-event testing (PET). Unmasking and singing or playing of wind instruments at live performances for vaccinated performers may resume, subject to updated safe management measures.

Further details on live performances will be released by the National Arts Council (NAC), and further details on worship services will be released by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY).

Marriage Solemnizations and Wedding Receptions

Marriage solemnizations in external venues (i.e. not in a place of residence or in the Registry of Marriages/Registry of Muslim Marriages building) may take place with up to 500 persons (including the wedding couple but excluding solemnizers and vendors) if all are fully vaccinated. Otherwise, only up to 50 attendees will be allowed without PET.

Wedding receptions will be allowed with up to 250 attendees if all are fully vaccinated, and with groups of up to 5 attendees per table.

This will take effect from 10 August 2021.

Resuming Entry Approvals for Vaccinated Work Pass Holders and Their Dependants

From 10 August 2021, the Ministry of Manpower will resume entry approvals for work pass holders and their dependants with travel history to higher risk countries/ regions.

Eligible work pass holders and their dependants must be fully vaccinated before arrival in Singapore. They will also be subjected to the prevailing health protocols in Singapore.

What’s Going to Happen on 19 August

It was previously announced that the restrictions would last until 18 August, so what’s going to happen on 19 August, the “real date” of the reopening?

Here’s a preview of what we can expect:

  • Congregational and other worship services, cinemas, MICE, live performances, spectator sport events, and marriage solemnizations. These events may take place with up to 1,000 attendees if all are fully vaccinated. Otherwise, only up to 50 attendees will be allowed without PET.
  • Attractions, cruises, museums, and public libraries. The operating capacity of attractions and cruises will be increased from the current capacity of 25% to 50%. Museums and public libraries will also be allowed to operate at an increased operating capacity of 50%.
  • Shopping malls and showrooms. The occupancy limits for shopping malls and showrooms will be increased from the current limit of 16 sqm per person of Gross Floor Area, to 10 sqm per person.
  • Work-from-home. Up to 50% of employees who are able to work from home will be allowed to return to the workplace. *cue the cries from countless office workers*
  • Removal of Temperature Screening Requirement. Public premises will no longer be required to measure visitors’ temperature.

Option for 14-day Stay Home Notice (SHN) at Suitable Place of Residence/ Accommodation of Choice for More Regions

From 20 August 2021, 2359 hrs, all fully vaccinated travellers from Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Italy, Norway, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and Switzerland may be able to apply to opt out of dedicated SHN facilities and serve their 14-day SHN at their respective places of residence (e.g. residential address) or other suitable accommodation if they fulfil certain criteria.

New Healthcare SOP

With evidence emerging that vaccinated individuals can recover within 10 days from illness onset, MOH will discharge fully vaccinated persons earlier at Day 10 from isolation if their PCR test shows that they are COVID-19 negative or have very low viral loads.

Others who do not meet the criteria will continue to be discharged after 14 days of isolation without any further testing, with an additional 7 days’ leave of absence.

“Vaccinate or Regular Test” Regime for Selected Sectors of the Workforce

This sounds chim, but it basically means that either you get vaccinated or you’d have to go through regular testing.

This is only for people in these groups:

  • People working in the healthcare sector, eldercare sector and settings with children 12 years and below
  • People working in sectors that interact with customers in higher-risk mask-off settings, and at Singapore’s borders or COVID-19 frontline work (e.g. F&B establishments, gyms and fitness studios)
  • People working in public service (this is just to set an example)

This will start from 1 October 2021; unvaccinated individuals will have to be tested with an ART kit twice a week. For the small group that remains medically ineligible for vaccines, the Government will subsidise their tests.

Singapore’ Move: To Be a COVID-19 Resilient Nation

Lest you’re not aware, Singapore’s goal is now to vaccinate as many people as possible so that we can live with COVID-19.

According to MOH, our population vaccination rate has been going up by about one percentage-point each day.

As of 5 August 2021, 67% of the population have completed their full vaccination regimen under the national vaccination programme and 78% have received at least one dose.

Vaccination reduces the risk of infection and serious disease when infected with COVID-19. Over the last 28 days, among the 80 local cases infected with COVID-19 who are seriously ill 72 are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, while only 8 are fully vaccinated.

In other words, yes: last year, you thank yourself for staying at home so that we can finally reopen. This year, you should thank yourself for having been jabbed twice so that we can finally reopen.

To know more about vaccines in Singapore, watch this video to the end:

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Featured Image: YouTube (CNA)