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New COVID-19 rules: Late-night drinks and other things you can (and can't) do from next week

New COVID-19 rules: Late-night drinks and other things you can (and can't) do from next week

People at an eatery in Junction 8 at dinner time on Jun 21, 2021. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: Singapore will ease a raft of COVID-19 curbs from Mar 29, including mask-wearing requirements and group sizes for social gatherings. 

Addressing the nation in a live speech on Thursday (Mar 24), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong described the moves as a "decisive step" towards living with the coronavirus. 

In a press conference after Mr Lee's address, co-chair of the multi-ministry task force Gan Kim Yong noted that the number of daily COVID-19 cases in Singapore has steadily declined, with the week-on-week infection growth rate at about 0.7 to 0.8. 

The number of severe cases has also fallen, he added. 

“All these indicate that the Omicron wave has peaked and is declining. And with that we can progress further in our journey towards COVID resilience,” said Mr Gan. 

Here’s how life will change from Mar 29. 

1. You can take off your mask outdoors

But wearing a mask indoors will still be required. Indoor places refer to all buildings or places with clearly defined entrances or exits, said the Ministry of Health (MOH). 

For example, people will have to wear masks in office buildings, shopping malls, on public transport and in classrooms. 

Hawker centres, coffee shops, wet markets and other HDB retail shops or shophouses also count as indoor spaces. 

Places that are sheltered but with open access will generally be regarded as outdoor areas. These include HDB void decks, bus stops, open-air sheltered walkways and bridges, as well as parks, fields and nature trails. 

2. You can eat out or visit a friend’s home in groups of 10

If you have yet to make restaurant reservations for next week, now might be a good time to get on the phone. From Mar 29, the maximum group size allowed for social gatherings will be doubled from five to 10 people. 

Groups of 10 vaccinated people will be allowed to dine in at food and beverage outlets, and each household can receive up to 10 visitors at a time. 

This also applies to hawker centres and coffee shops where full checks on vaccination-differentiated safe management measures (VDS) are implemented at their entrances, said MOH. 

To ease the operational burden for F&B operators, all establishments will be allowed to seat smaller groups of up to five fully vaccinated persons without the need for full VDS checks at their entrance. 

Instead, random spot checks will be done to ensure that the vaccinated diners-only rule is adhered to, said the Health Ministry.

3. You can enjoy a live performance and have a drink at a restaurant, even after 10.30pm

The current restriction on the sale and consumption of alcohol after 10.30pm at F&B outlets will be lifted from Mar 29.

Live performance will also be allowed to resume at all venues, including at F&B establishments. 

Those involved in the performances will have to comply with the prevailing safe management measures such as keeping to a group size of 10.

"We will also lift the restriction on the screening of live broadcast programmes and recorded entertainment in F&B establishments," said MOH.

4. You might see more of your colleagues back at the workplace 

Up to 75 per cent of employees who can work from home will be allowed to return to the workplace from Mar 29. 

The rules for social gatherings in workplaces will be aligned to that of social settings, as long as the general group size and masking rules are in place. 

Larger-scale social gatherings and events like gala dinners, corporate dinner-and-dance events, birthday celebrations and anniversaries will also be allowed to resume. 

There should be no more than 10 people per table and a safe distance of 1m between tables. 

5. Singing will be allowed in some settings 

With masks worn throughout the “vocalisation activity”, singing in general settings, including in schools, will be allowed to resume. 

Congregational singing and chanting will be allowed. Audiences, spectators and participants at events will also be allowed to cheer. 

As for nightlife businesses like bars, pubs, karaoke establishments and nightclubs, the task force is separately looking into their resumption. 

These are activities with much higher risks of transmission, and participants in these settings will have more difficulties complying with the prevailing safe-management measures. 

The Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Home Affairs will provide an update on the reopening of this sector in the coming weeks. 

Source: CNA/hw(ac)