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24 Apr 2022

22nd Apr 2022

     It has been three weeks since we announced the easing of community and border measures. Since then, daily infection numbers had continued to fall and have stabilised. Therefore, this gives us confidence to proceed with further easing of several community and travel measures. While this represents a significant step in our return to normalcy, the pandemic is not over. In particular, we must recognise the risks ahead and continue to take necessary precautions, including getting ourselves vaccinated and boosted. We also need to stay alert and stand ready to respond if new variants surface or if the public health situation takes a turn for the worse.

 

Updates on the Local Situation

 

2.      Daily case numbers and COVID-19 hospitalisations had declined steadily in the past week. The 7-day moving average of daily local case numbers has fallen from around 18,300 at its peak to under 3,100 in the past week. More importantly, the number of hospitalisations has fallen from 1,726 at its peak to 266. COVID-19 related Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients is now in single digits. The incidence of severe illness has also remained low. In the past 28 days, 0.03% and 0.2% of local cases required ICU care and oxygen supplementation respectively.

 

Step Down to DORSCON Yellow

 

3.      The Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) framework gives indication of the current disease situation. Given the improving local situation, with daily cases falling and stabilising; the impact of the disease has been mitigated by high levels of vaccination; and the disease is typically mild, except in the unvaccinated and vulnerable groups such as the elderly1 ; and the progressive easing of SMMs, the DORSCON level will be adjusted from Orange to Yellow. 

 

Updates on Community SMMs

 

SMM 1–5 Framework


4.      From 26 April 2022, we will implement the following adjustments (see Annex A for more details):


a. Group Sizes. There will no longer be a group size limit, meaning that individuals will not be required to keep to a group of 10 persons for mask-off activities. The cap on the number of unique visitors per household, previously 10 persons at any one time, will also be lifted2.

b. Mask-WearingMask-wearing will continue to be required in indoor settings when people leave their homes, including on public transport. Mask-wearing will remain optional in outdoor settings. However, we encourage individuals to exercise precaution. For example, in crowded outdoor areas, it will still be a good idea to wear our masks.

c. Workplace RequirementsAll workers may now return to the workplace, an increase from the current limit of 75% of those who can work from home. Notwithstanding the mask-on requirement in indoor settings, workers will be allowed to remove their masks at the workplace: (i) when they are not interacting physically with others and (ii) when they are not in customer-facing areas. While this concession will provide some flexibility for workers as more return to the workplace, everyone is advised to exercise social responsibility and maintain an appropriate safe distance from others while unmasked. Even with these changes, we encourage employers to retain and promote flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting and staggered work hours, as a permanent feature of the workplace. Beyond the workplace benefits of flexible work arrangements, this will also help workers avoid peak period crowds as more of us return to the workplace.

d. Safe Distancing. As group size limits are lifted, safe distancing will no longer be required between individuals or between groups.

e. Capacity Limits. Previously, larger settings/events with >1,000 pax and that are mask-on were subject to a capacity limit of 75%. We will now remove this capacity limit for such settings/events3.

 

 

Given the above changes, most of SMMs 1-5, except indoor masking requirement, will be inactivated. However, this does not mean that they become moribund. SMMs 1-5 continue to serve as the key levers to regulate social interactions, and the parameters can be adjusted if the situation requires it.


Other Adjustments to Community Measures

 

5.      Vaccination-Differentiated SMMs (VDS). Our vaccination coverage is amongst the highest in the world at 96% of our eligible population. With cases and hospitalisations steadily declining, our hospitals and healthcare workers are adjusting to handle their higher clinical workload from non-COVID-19 patients. As such, we are now in a position to ease VDS.

 

6.      Hence, from 26 April 2022, VDS will be removed from all settings, except for:

 

a. Events with >500 participants at any one time;
b. Nightlife establishments where dancing among patrons is one of the intended activities; and
c. Food and beverage (F&B) establishments, including restaurants, coffee shops and hawker centres.

 

 

These are settings which are assessed to pose higher risks of transmission due to factors such as large crowds and unmasked activities.

 

7.      Specific to F&B establishments, while VDS is still required, these establishments will no longer need to conduct VDS checks for their customers. This is already the case for hawker centres and coffee shops. Instead, the onus will be on the individuals dining in to abide by the rules. Random spot-checks will continue to be conducted to ensure that only fully vaccinated persons are dining in at F&B establishments.

 

8.      Workforce Vaccination Measures (WVM) implemented by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will also be lifted. Nevertheless, given that the pandemic is not over and there are still significant risks in the coming months, tripartite partners have agreed that employers should have the flexibility to continue implementing vaccination-related instructions for employees for workplace health and safety and business continuity reasons, and in accordance with employment law. MOM will provide further details.

 

9.      Stopping Health Risk Notices (HRNs). Given the improved situation, the Ministry of Health (MOH) will stop issuing HRNs to close contacts from 26 April 2022. Individuals infected with COVID-19 will no longer need to submit details of household contacts online. However, persons should continue to exercise social responsibility. For example, COVID-19 positive persons should inform their close contacts so that the contacts can take the necessary precautions under Protocol 3, i.e. test themselves to be negative before leaving their homes, to prevent further spread. Settings with vulnerable persons (e.g. hospitals, nursing homes and elderly homes) should request proof of a negative Antigen Rapid Test (ART) result for persons with recent exposure before allowing entry.

 

10.      Stepping down on the use of TraceTogether (TT) and SafeEntry (SE). As HRNs will no longer be issued, COVID-19 cases need not upload their TT data or submit their TT token from 26 April 2022. Most venues will also no longer require the public to check in using the TT application or token, except larger events with more than 500 participants at any one time and certain nightlife establishments, where VDS checks are still required at entry. The TT/SE capabilities will be maintained as a means of conducting these VDS checks, and to enable us to rapidly step up contact tracing and VDS checks should we need to do so again in response to a new Variant of Concern. The public is therefore strongly encouraged to keep the TT application on their phones as well as their TT tokens.

 

11.      As in current practice as explained in Parliament on 2 February 2021, any generated TT or SE data may continue to be used by police officers and law enforcement officers for criminal investigations and proceedings in respect of serious offences. This is provided for in the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act. In order to safeguard the public, the Police must be able to use this available data to bring perpetrators to justice and seek redress for victims.

 

12.      Stopping of free community ART testing and weekend Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) testing at the Combined Test Centres (CTCs) and Quick Test Centres (QTCs). We had previously provided free community ART testing and weekend ARI testing at our CTCs and QTCs during the Omicron wave to alleviate the workload at GP clinics and other healthcare facilities. With the declining case numbers and easing of load at the Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs), these free tests will cease from 26 April 2022 onwards. Paid ART testing will still be available for members of the public at the CTCs/QTCs, GP clinics or via tele-ART providers (https://www.moh.gov.sg/licensing-and-regulation/regulations-guidelines-and-circulars/details/list-of-covid-19-swab-providers).

 

Updates on Border Measures

 

Removal of Pre-Departure Test Requirements


13.      We had earlier launched the Vaccinated Travel Framework, which allowed all fully vaccinated travellers4 to enter Singapore without serving a Stay-Home Notice (SHN) or applying for entry approvals. Fully vaccinated travellers arriving via land checkpoints are also not required to take pre-departure or on-arrival COVID-19 tests, while those arriving via air or sea checkpoints are currently subject to a pre-departure test (PDT) within 2 days before departure for Singapore.

 

14.      We have continued to monitor the local and global COVID-19 situation following the launch of the Vaccinated Travel Framework, and will revise our requirements. All fully vaccinated travellers and non-fully vaccinated children aged 12 and below arriving from 26 April 2022, 0001 hours via air or sea checkpoints, will also no longer be required to take a PDT before departing for Singapore5. With this move, it will mean that fully vaccinated and well travellers will not require any tests to enter Singapore. In addition, from 1 May 2022, fully vaccinated non-Malaysian Work Permit Holders no longer need to apply for entry approvals to enter Singapore.

 

15.      In addition, non-Malaysian Work Permit Holders (WPHs) holding an In-Principle Approval (IPA) in the Construction, Marine Shipyard and Process (CMP) sectors are currently required to obtain entry approvals from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). From 1 May 2022, fully vaccinated non-Malaysian WPHs holding an IPA in the CMP sectors no longer need to apply for entry approvals to come into Singapore. Instead, they will need to book a slot at the Onboard centre to undergo onboarding upon arrival. Please refer to the MOM website for details.

 

16.      Entry requirements for non-fully vaccinated travellers remain unchanged. All non-fully vaccinated travellers aged 13 and above who are allowed to enter Singapore are required to take a PDT within 2 days before departure for Singapore6, undergo a 7-day SHN, and take a Polymerase Chain Reaction COVID-19 test at the end of their SHN period.

 

17.      Non-fully vaccinated Long-Term Pass Holders (LTPHs) and Short-Term Visitors (STVs) aged 13 and above are not allowed to enter Singapore, with the following exceptions: (i) LTPHs medically ineligible for vaccines; (ii) LTPHs and STVs with other valid entry approval (e.g. for compassionate reasons); and (iii) LTPHs aged 13 to 17, subject to the appropriate measures7.

 

18.      Given the increased availability of vaccines globally for those aged between 13 and 17, all LTPHs aged 13 and above arriving from 1 July 2022 will be required to be fully vaccinated prior to entry into Singapore, unless medically ineligible for vaccines.

 

Resumption of Cross-Border Bus Services and Taxis with Malaysia


19.      Following the reopening of Singapore and Malaysia land borders for fully vaccinated travellers, the Land Transport Authority (LTA), together with the public transport operators, will resume the operation of cross-border bus services from 1 May 2022Starting next month, Singapore bus operators will reinstate cross-border bus services between Singapore and Johor Bahru. These include Services 160, 170 and 170X operated by SBS Transit Ltd, Service 950 operated by SMRT Buses Ltd, and Services TS1, TS3, TS6 and TS8 operated by Transtar Travel Pte Ltd.


20.      Cross-border taxi operations will also resume from 1 May 2022. Commuters travelling to Johor can either board a taxi at the Queen Street taxi terminal or book one through taxi companies with licensed cross-border taxi drivers.

 

21.      More details on the resumption of cross-border bus services and cross-border taxi operations can be found in LTA’s news release.

 

22.      Please see Annex B for details on the border measures for travellers arriving from 26 April 2022, 0001 hours. The latest border requirements can be found on the SafeTravel website (https://safetravel.ica.gov.sg). Travellers are strongly advised to visit the website to check the latest border measures before entering Singapore, and be prepared to adhere to the prevailing border measures upon entry into Singapore.

 

Expansion of Community Visits for Migrant Workers

 

23.      From 26 April 2022, up to 25,000 migrant workers will be able to visit the community on weekdays, and up to 50,000 on weekends and public holidays, for up to 8 hours per visit. This is an increase from the current quotas of 15,000 on weekdays, and 30,000 on weekends and public holidays.

 

24.      With the lifting of VDS in most settings, unvaccinated migrant workers will now be allowed to participate in community visits. Unvaccinated migrant workers will not be required to apply for exit passes or take Pre-Visit Tests before going to Recreation Centres.

 

25.      To manage overcrowding at popular locations, migrant workers will still need to apply for exit passes and indicate their selected locations in the community. MOM will monitor the application numbers and continue to conduct regular checks at potential congregation hotspots.


Booster Vaccination

 

26.      Vaccination remains a critical tool in protecting our population from severe disease due to COVID-19. The Expert Committee on COVID-19 (EC19V) has recommended a booster dose for recovered persons aged 12 and above who have completed their primary vaccination, in view of waning immunity. This booster should not be delayed beyond 9 months after completing their primary vaccination series, and should be received at least 28 days after the infection. From 1 June 2022, these recovered persons will need to receive the booster dose within 9 months of their last primary vaccination dose, in order to maintain their vaccinated status. Individuals may walk into any Vaccination Centre, before 7pm, to receive their booster dose.

 

27.      Booster vaccination for all recovered dormitory dwelling Migrant Workers (MWs) and non-dormitory dwelling work-permit holder MWs in the Construction, Marine Shipyard and Process (CMP) sector will be scheduled and announced later.

 

28.      For persons aged 60 to 79 years, while the EC19V is not recommending that they receive as a second booster shot, the Committee agreed to offer it to them should they wish to take it. The second booster vaccine dose should be administered about five months after receiving the first booster. This is in addition to the earlier recommendation of a second booster for specific groups (age 80 and above, residents of aged care facilities, and the medically vulnerable). Persons aged 60 and above can receive their second booster by walking into any Vaccination Centre offering mRNA vaccines, before 7pm.

 

Consolidation of Vaccination Centres

 

29.      As of 21 April 2022, over 92% of our total population have completed their primary vaccination series and 73% have received their booster doses. With the number of doses administered reducing steadily over the past weeks, MOH will progressively step down the number of Vaccination Centres (VCs) from end-May 2022, to consolidate our resources and free up these spaces for other uses.


a. For VCs ceasing operations on 31 May 2022 (Annex C):

i. VCs offering the Moderna/Spikevax vaccine will administer the last Dose 1 on 2 May 2022.
ii. 
VCs offering the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine will administer the last Dose 1 on 10 May 2022.
iii. 
Dose 2 and booster doses will continue to be administered until 31 May 2022.

 

 

b. For VCs ceasing operations on 30 June 2022 (Annex C):

i. VCs offering the Moderna/Spikevax vaccine will administer the last Dose 1 on 2 June 2022.
ii. VCs offering the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine will administer the last Dose 1 on 9 June 2022.
iii. Dose 2 and booster doses will continue to be administered until 30 June 2022.

 

 

30.      The VCs at Former Hong Kah Secondary School and Raffles City Convention Centre will remain in operation. We will continue to ensure the availability of COVID-19 vaccinations by consolidating our resources into several Joint Testing and Vaccination Centres. We will share more details in due course.

 

31.      We urge individuals who are eligible for vaccinations or boosters to take full advantage of the capacity and good geographical spread of our VCs while they are still in operation. The public may refer to https://www.vaccine.gov.sg/locations-vcs for more details on the closures.

 

Vaccinations and Boosters for Travellers

 

32.      We had previously announced that we will enable short term travellers to pay to receive COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters in Singapore. Individuals may now receive the Moderna vaccine under the Private Vaccination Programme (PVP) at Healthway Medical at Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital. Interested individuals may contact the clinic directly.

 

33.      We are progressively onboarding more clinics to the PVP. The list of participating clinics can be found at https://www.vaccine.gov.sg/locations/pvp.

 

Safeguarding Resources at the Emergency Department

 

34.      Even as the case numbers decline, we would like to remind the public to avoid overwhelming our Emergency Departments (EDs). Medical treatment at an ED should be reserved for those with severe or life-threatening emergencies. Patients with non-emergency conditions should seek care at primary care clinics to avoid crowding the EDs and delaying the care for those with severe and life-threatening conditions.

 

35.      To safeguard resources at the ED, individuals who require COVID-19 testing or who have tested COVID-positive with mild symptoms should first seek help through their regular primary care doctors or MOH-approved telemedicine providers. Patients, regardless of vaccination status, who walk in to the ED for the purpose of COVID-19 testing without a valid GP/polyclinic referral or for non-emergency COVID-19 treatment8  will be required to pay for their ED bills.

 

Towards COVID-19 Resiliency

 

36.      This round of SMM easing and our transition to DORSCON Yellow is a milestone in our progress towards living with COVID-19 and was built on the sacrifices of our healthcare workers and the collective support of all Singaporeans. However, the situation can change quickly in the face of new variants. Hence, we urge everyone to remain socially responsible and vigilant even as we take strides towards normalcy.

 

 

MINISTRY OF HEALTH

22 APRIL 2022

 


 

[1] Data show that COVID-19 is a mild disease in children. For Omicron, 0.014% of cases aged 0-11 years old had illness requiring oxygen supplementation or ICU care.

[2] The attendee limits for home solemnisations and home funerals will also be lifted.

[3] All nightlife businesses where dancing among patrons is one of the intended activities will continue to be subject to a 75% capacity limit.

[4] Please refer to https://safetravel.ica.gov.sg/arriving/overview#vaccination for the definition of a fully vaccinated traveller.

[5] From 1 May 2022, non-Malaysian WPHs holding an IPA will need to undergo a two-day Pre-Departure Preparatory Programme (PDPP), if PDPP is available in their source countries (currently Bangladesh, India and Myanmar), before entering Singapore. More details of the PDPP and the list of PDPP providers can be found here.

[6]The following PDTs are accepted:Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, professionally administered Antigen-Rapid Test (ART) or ARTs supervised by licensed Singapore providers (including remotely supervised ARTs). Please refer to https://go.gov.sg/remote-art-overseas-sg for a list of approved remotely supervised ART PDT providers.

[7] Non-fully vaccinated LTPHs aged 13 – 17 years entering Singapore should complete the full vaccination regime after arriving in Singapore.

[8]These refer to cases who walk in to EDs without a referral from a doctor or telemedicine provider, or have symptoms that do not require hospital admission.