Education Secretary Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the state's Task Force to Combat Covid-19, announced today (Oct. 20) that Singapore can move into the third phase of its reopening by the end of this year.
This will only happen if the community cases stay low. As new clusters emerge, the timeline may need to be pushed back, he said.
When Phase 3 is approaching, the outside meeting could increase from five to eight people. The same goes for home visitors, who allow larger families to gather together.
In addition, the capacity limits can be increased in venues such as museums, places of worship and wedding receptions, with multiple zones with 50 people being allowed.
The conditions must be met to enter Phase 3
Phase 3 will be the final phase of the reopening of the economy, so Singapore must remain vigilant to meet several important conditions.
First, Singaporeans need to continue to adhere to safe management practices, including small group sizes, safe distancing and social responsibility.
Next, larger-scale COVID-19 tests will be carried out so that more activities can be resumed.
Photo credit: Eric Gaillard via Reuters
Rapid antigen tests are currently being tested using a new scheme. Participants in some mass events must take this test and obtain a negative result before they are allowed to attend.
Results can be generated within 30 minutes, and testing can be performed either at the venue or outside a separate testing facility.
For tests conducted off-site, attendees must present a negative test result certificate valid for a 24 hour period that includes the duration of the event.
The tests are cheaper and give faster results, but they are also less accurate. This means that false positives can occur and safe management measures should continue to be taken.
According to MOH, the major events will be set by the government from mid-October to December this year and will include business-to-business events, wedding receptions, live performances, and sporting events.
"If these pilots prove successful, MOH will consider how these tests can be made available for wider application," the ministry added.
More venues like movie theaters require users to check in to SafeEntry using the TraceTogether app or tokens.
All of these measures will be implemented gradually depending on the local and global situation, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.
Bars, KTVS, night clubs are likely to remain closed
Image credit: Roylro
However, nightlife classified as higher risk, such as bars, karaoke lounges and nightclubs, is likely to remain closed even at the beginning of the third phase.
Mr Wong argued that people in these places are in an enclosed space in close proximity to each other, allowing large clusters to break out, as is the case in other countries.
With that in mind, authorities plan to introduce limited pilot programs to help reopen the nightlife industry.
Mr Wong said the government would take steps to help entrepreneurs and property owners leave and move to new areas and that he would provide more details of the aid package at a later date.
The Ministry of Health stressed that Phase 3 does not mean a return to days before COVID-19. It will bring new ways of working and living with it until the world "tightly controls" the virus.
It added that Singaporeans need to be willing to stay in Phase 3 for an extended period, possibly more than a year.
Phase 3 will not be static either, it said. If more enablers can be set up, there is an opportunity to further open and expand the activities in this phase.
The road to distributing a safe and effective vaccine will be a long one, so we need to prepare for the long haul.
"Phase 3 is not a declaration of victory and we should all be walking around celebrating and forgetting about the measures," said Gan.
"It is a milestone that we have now taken adequate measures and safeguards, and we should keep those safeguards in place."
Selected image source: Ministry of Communication and Information