Singapore is set to ease COVID restrictions on daily life from today and begin slightly loosening border controls, citing a vaccination rate that now ranks among the best in the world.
Dining-in will resume and group sizes will be raised to five from today for those who have been fully vaccinated, officials said, outlining a strategy that will intentionally treat those who’ve had both shots differently than those who haven’t. Work-from-home rules are expected to ease froom the following week and the country will also restart entry approvals for fully vaccinated foreign workers and their dependents.
“We are now in a stronger position to resume with our reopening journey, but in the cautious and calibrated way," Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong told reporters at a briefing. "We will do that in stages."
Singapore has been tested in recent weeks by outbreaks that spawned hundreds of new infections, with dozens of unlinked cases each day, forcing the government to delay its reopening plans and reimpose strict social curbs.
However case counts have stabilised, coming down from their late-July highs, and the hospital system hasn’t been overwhelmed, officials said.
Allowances for the vaccinated group include:
- Group sizes increased to 5, up from 2
- Dining-in allowed in groups of 5
- Events like worship services, movies, spectator sports, and weddings can also have larger gatherings if everyone is vaccinated
The city-state’s famed hawker centers will reopen to both the vaccinated and unvaccinated, though those will be limited to groups of two.
Singapore plans to ease its strict work-from-home rules from August 19, if conditions allow. The change would let as many as 50% of employees who are otherwise able to work at home to return to the office.
Other changes from August 19 would include:
- Ending required temperature screening before entering public places like shopping malls
- Increasing capacity for malls, cinemas, cruises, libraries and attractions
Singapore’s mandatory mask-wearing rules will remain “for quite some time," Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said.
Entry approvals for most foreign workers and their dependents will be restarted from today, officials said, on condition that they must be fully vaccinated before arriving.
It will also allow certain fully-vaccinated travelers from Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Italy, Norway, South Korea and Switzerland to serve 14-day stay-home notices at their places of residence, rather than dedicated facilities starting August 20.
Singapore plans to open vaccinated travel lanes with selected countries, where frequent testing may replace mandatory stay-home rules on arrival.