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COVID-19: Dining-in group size limit at regular F&B outlets down to 2 from Monday; social gatherings reduced

 COVID-19: Dining-in group size limit at regular F&B outlets down to 2 from Monday; social gatherings reduced

People walking in pairs in Holland Village on Aug 10, 2021, as dining-in at food and beverage outlets resumes for those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: The group size limit for dining-in at regular food and beverage (F&B) outlets will be reduced to two vaccinated people from Monday (Sep 27), while the cap on social gatherings will also be reduced, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Friday.

This comes amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in Singapore in recent weeks.

The new restrictions will last from Sep 27 to Oct 24, and MOH will review the measures two weeks after implementation and adjust these measures based on the community situation then.

"We do not need to return to a heightened alert. But we have to do more to scale back social interactions further in order to slow down community transmissions and allow for better stability," said MOH.

DINE-IN AT F&B OUTLETS

Groups of up to two people will be allowed to dine-in at regular F&B outlets if all diners are fully vaccinated. This is down from the current limit of five.

Unvaccinated individuals with a valid negative pre-event test result, recovered people, and children aged 12 and below may be included in the group of two at F&B outlets, MOH said.

F&B establishments that are not able to ensure that all dine-in patrons meet the criteria for full vaccination may only operate takeaway and delivery services, MOH said.

The rules for dining-in at hawker centres and coffee shops remain unchanged.

“Because hawker centres and coffee shops offer essential food services to the community, the concession to dine-in at these premises will remain at up to two persons, regardless of vaccination status,” the Health Ministry said.

Entertainment such as live performances, recorded music, and videos or television screening at F&B outlets will continue to be prohibited, MOH said.

"Patrons to F&B establishments are also reminded to adhere to all safe management measures and keep their masks on at all times except when eating or drinking," the ministry added.

SOCIAL GATHERINGS REDUCED

The permitted group size for social gatherings will also be reduced from a maximum of five people to two people.

The maximum number of unique visitors per household will also be reduced to two per day, down from five. The cap on visitors does not apply to grandchildren being cared for by grandparents.

“Individuals should continue to limit their overall number of social gatherings to not more than one per day, whether to another household, or meeting with friends and family members in a public place,” MOH said. 

"We strongly encourage all individuals to reduce social activities and wear our masks diligently.

“In particular, the elderly and persons with co-morbidities who are more vulnerable to severe illnesses, should stay home as much as possible, except for essential activities such as working, buying food and groceries, seeing the doctor, and exercising individually in uncrowded locations." 

MOH warned that if the infection continues at its current trajectory, Singapore can expect to "reach a daily count of about 3,200 in the next week". It has not ruled out cases "doubling further".

"To minimise the strain on our overall healthcare capacity, we will have to tighten measures before that happens," the ministry said.

"VERY DIFFICULT DECISION"

The tightening of safe management measures was a "very difficult decision", said co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force Gan Kim Yong at a press conference on Friday.

“We know that this would affect many businesses and people,” he added. "While doing so may not reduce the number of daily new infections immediately, it will allow us to slow down the speed of increase and avoid overtaxing our healthcare workers." 

Task force co-chair Lawrence Wong, who is also Finance Minister, said that the restrictions are “much more targeted”.

“We have left many other parameters untouched. For example, we are still allowing mask on vaccinated events to continue," he added.

“These are generally of lower risk and they have not resulted in large transmission clusters."

He added that plans are "continuing" for travel and to allow some dormitory workers to go out to the community.

“Where it makes sense, we have allowed these measures to continue and we will continue with these measures, but we are taking a careful calibrated approach to tighten certain restrictions, and these will reinforce our own individual efforts to scale back our social interactions,” Mr Wong said.

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Source: CNA/ja

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