MOH Tightens Covid-19 Measures, Closes Outdoor BBQ Pits & Reimposes Entry Restrictions On Lucky Plaza

Since Phase 3 started on 28 Dec, Singaporeans have been enjoying their time with more friends as the limit on group sizes increased to 8.

However, to the recent spike in community cases, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has warned of an “uncontrolled resurgence”.

Thus, though the group of 8 ruling remains, we’ve asked advised to have no more than 2 social gatherings a day.

Photo for illustration purposes only.
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Those who miss working from home (WFH) will also be glad to know that MOH has advised employers to allow staff to do that it’s possible.

MOH tightens Covid-19 measures

In a press release on Friday (30 Apr), MOH announced tightened measures against Covid-19.

These followed the reporting of 9 community cases on the same day, with 4 linked to an evolving cluster at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), which has reached 13 cases.

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Due to the increase, MOH emphasised the need to “move quickly to reduce the level of interactions in the community” so as to break the chain of transmission.

Thus, it issued some advisories that would be of special interest to the social butterflies among us.

Limit on number of social gatherings urged

We’ve been urged to limit the number of social gatherings we attend in 1 day to just 2.

This applies whether they’re meetups in public or visits to another household.

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The rule of 8 still applies to gatherings in public, as well as the rule on up to 8 visitors per household per day.

However, we should also keep our group sizes as small as possible, and stick to a regular group of contacts, MOH added.

Thus, social butterflies may want to rein in their instinct for mingling for the time being, and choose their friends wisely for more intimate gatherings.

In fact, introverts are probably model citizens now, as MOH also advised us to stay home where possible and avoid crowded places.

Employers should let staff WFH

Since 5 Apr, WFH stopped being the default mode and many Singapore workers made either a triumphant or sluggish return to their offices.

However, less than a month later, WFH is back again, as MOH is asking employers to let their staff WFH if they’re able to.

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The ministry also urged employers to stagger the starting times of staff who still come to the office, and implement flexible working hours.

Social gatherings at the workplace are also discouraged.

These measures will help lower the risk of Covid-19 spreading in the workplaces and public transport as workers commute to the office.

As a result, those who missed the comforts of home while working may now have a 2nd chance to do so, while those who missed their colleagues may have to part with them again.

Govt agencies to take the lead in WFH

Of course, when the Government asks employers to let their staff WFH, they have to lead by example.

Thus, speaking at a Covid-19 taskforce press conference on Friday (30 Apr) night, Education Minister Lawrence Wong said the public sector will take the lead.

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Public agencies in the Novena area, which is where TTSH is located, will ask their staff to WFH if possible.

That includes the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).

This way, the chance of Covid-19 spreading is lower, especially since TTSH is next to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), where many Covid-19 patients are warded.

Lucky Plaza & Peninsula Plaza entry restrictions are back

Apart from the above, which are just advisories, MOH will implement some new measures from 1-14 May.

Entry restrictions based on IC numbers were imposed on Lucky Plaza and Peninsula Plaza on weekends in Aug 2020, but they were lifted on 10 Apr.

It promptly resulted in massive crowds forming.

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Just 3 weeks later, they’ll be reinstated, to the possible disappointment of the tenants there, who had lamented that their business was affected.

BBQ pits & campsites closed

If you fancy a BBQ gathering with your friends over the weekend, do take note that outdoor BBQ pits and campsites will be closed to the public.

This includes BBQ pits in parks and HDB estates.

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Even those in condos and country clubs will be off-limits.

Lower capacity for malls & large stores

If like most Singaporeans, you visit the mall at some point during the weekend, do note that it may be more difficult than usual to get in.

That’s because the capacity limits for malls and large standalone stores will be lowered.

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Only 1 person per 10 square metres (sq m) of gross floor area (GFA) will be allowed – that’s fewer people in than 1 person per 8 sq m of GFA as it was previously.

Together with the closure of 22 places including malls for cleaning over this weekend, there’ll be fewer places to window shop.

Attractions to operate at half capacity

If you’re thinking of heading to attractions instead, be warned that they’ll be operating at only half capacity.

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As Phase 3 started, attractions approved by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) were allowed to operate at 65% of capacity.

However, from 7-14 May, these attractions will see their capacity lowered to 50% only.

Further tightening possible: Lawrence Wong

Mr Wong acknowledged that the renewed tightening of measures will inconvenience some.

However, he urged Singaporeans to cut down on their social activities to slow down the spread of Covid-19.

He also warned that further tightening may be on the horizon if the situation becomes worse.

Let’s all do our part

Singapore may have done well to get life as close to normal as possible, but we’re unfortunately going through a bit of a rough patch now.

Scaling down our social activities after months of freedom is a small sacrifice if it helps get us through this, as we’re sure most Singaporeans don’t want the alternative – another ‘Circuit Breaker’.

Let’s all do our part to nip this surge of cases in the bud sooner rather than later.

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Featured image adapted from Duy Pham @ Unsplash.