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ECONOMY | Staff Reporter, Singapore
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Large gatherings may be allowed soon: MOH

Pre-event COVID-19 testing will be pilot tested.

The Ministry of Health may soon allow large gatherings under the revealed Phase 3 plans for Singapore’s reopening.

Along with social distancing and wearing of masks, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce is piloting the use of pre-event COVID-19 testing for larger scale and higher risk activities to reduce the risk of a COVID-19 case being present at events.

Pre-event testing requires participants to an event to be tested shortly before the event, either at the event venue or at a separate testing facility. Only participants who test negative for COVID-19 will be allowed to join the event.

The MOH insisted that Phase 3 is not a return to pre-COVID-19 status but it will “entail new ways of working and living, until the world has the virus under tight control.”

“We have seen a resurgence of COVID-19 in other countries as they open up to more activities or due to lack of adherence to safe management measures. To ensure that the situation in Singapore remains under control despite the continued presence of cases in our community, we will each have to keep up the habits and practices that we have painstakingly put in place over the past few months,” said MOH.

MOH is also relying on digital contact tracing tools, SafeEntry and TraceTogether, to detect COVID-19 clusters quickly in large events.

Using the apps, visitors are required to check in to SafeEntry through either scanning the QR code using the TraceTogether App on the phone, or by presenting the TraceTogether Token to be scanned.

Phase 3

With these conditions, the MOH will implement Phase 3, with a larger emphasis on adjustments.

Public venues such as museums and amusements parks would have their capacity limit increased. Events with multiple zones of 50 people may soon be allowed.

Gatherings with higher risk, such as weddings receptions where people will gather for meals without masks, may be allowed as long as attendees are subject to pre-event testing.

The government may also request photos and videos of events to facilitate checks and investigations against any breaches of the rules.

Nightlife

Because of their higher risk settings, bars, pubs, karaoke lounges and nightclubs are still close and will remain so in Phase 3.

“But we are prepared to consider a few limited pilots in these settings, subject to a more stringent set of measures, including pre-entry testing, to explore how the industry could resume safely. We will discuss these possibilities with the nightlife industry. But we have to be realistic that it will take a long time for the industry to fully re-open in its original form. Where there is non-resumption, the Government will put in place an assistance package to help business operators and owners transit and pivot to new areas,” MOH said.

Reopening of borders

Phase 3 will also see a more relaxed border as the government will allow travellers from low-risk countries to enter Singapore with a COVID-19 test without the need to serve a Stay-Home Notice (SHN).

Travellers from high-risk countries, however, are subjected to SHN at home or at dedicated SHN facilities.

“As we make these adjustments towards a new COVID normal, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce will continue to explore parallel tracks such as vaccines, treatment, testing and other technologies which could enable us to further ease restrictions and resume connectivity with the world in a safe manner. The journey ahead may be long, but with the cooperation of everyone, including businesses, scientists, frontline workers, and the general public, we are confident of transiting smoothly to Phase Three and beyond, emerging stronger from this experience,” MOH said.
 

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