SINGAPORE: Limits on social gatherings will be reduced from groups of eight people to five as Singapore tightens COVID-19 measures amid a rise in community cases.
The new restriction will be in place from May 8 to May 30.
It applies similarly to households, which will only be able to receive five distinct visitors a day.
People are also advised to keep to a maximum of two social gatherings daily, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday (May 4).
Several other measures were announced, including the closure of indoor gyms, as well as testing requirements for worship services and cinemas with more than 100 attendees.
Capacity will be reduced at attractions, libraries, tours and MICE events.
READ: Possibility of circuit breaker ‘not ruled out’ as COVID-19 taskforce announces tighter measures
The measures will take Singapore back to Phase 2 of its reopening for a few weeks, said co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force, Lawrence Wong, at a press conference.
"This is not a circuit breaker. We certainly hope not to have to invoke another circuit breaker," he said.
While the measures will take effect on May 8, Mr Wong urged people to scale back on their activities as much as possible from Tuesday.
The proportion of employees allowed to return to the workplace will be reduced from May 8 to 30.
“Employers must ensure that no more than 50 per cent of employees who are able to work from home return to the workplace at any time,” MOH said in a media release. This is down from 75 per cent currently.
Social gatherings at the workplace should be avoided, said the ministry.
"However, if they cannot be avoided, for example during meal breaks, the gatherings are subject to the revised group size of five persons," it added.
Split team arrangements are not required, but employers should continue to stagger start times of employees who need to return to the workplace and implement flexible working hours.
GYMS, FITNESS STUDIOS TO CLOSE
Indoor gymnasiums and fitness studios will have to close from May 8 to 30 as they have been identified as higher-risk settings.
"These are small enclosed spaces where people are frequently unmasked while exercising, and in close proximity with many other unmasked people," said MOH.
Organised outdoor exercise programmes and classes may continue, subject to a class size of 30 in total. Group sizes must be kept to five, with a 3m distance between each group.
MOH said it will “remain vigilant” and continue to monitor other higher-risk settings and activities such as indoor sports halls, as well as personalised services such as massages, spas and facials.
“If the community cases situation does not improve, we will consider taking further actions on these higher-risk settings and activities,” the ministry said.
SMALLER GROUPS FOR EVENTS, CAPACITY CUT AT VENUES
To minimise the risk of large COVID-19 clusters forming, event sizes will be reduced.
For funerals, no more than 30 people will be allowed on the day of burial or cremation, down from the current limit of 50. The cap for other days of the wake remains at 30 people at any one time, MOH said.
No spectators will be allowed at sports events. Currently, up to 750 spectators are allowed with pre-event testing.
For MICE events and live performances, up to 250 people will be allowed, down from 750. In addition, pre-event testing will be required if there are more than 100 attendees.
The operating capacity will be reduced from 65 per cent to 50 per cent at museums, public libraries and attractions.
Tours will be able to accommodate a maximum of 20 people, down from 50.
TIGHTER PRE-EVENT TESTING REQUIREMENTS
Authorities will also introduce pre-event testing for worship services and cinemas.
From May 8 to 30, cinemas will require pre-event testing if there are more than 100 patrons at any one time, capped at 250 people.
It will be the same for congregational and other worship services.
“To further reduce the risks of transmission, congregational singing will be suspended in religious organisations to manage any risks of spread,” MOH said.
For weddings, the maximum number of attendees will remain at 250 in total - including the wedding couple but excluding the solemniser and vendors - in zones of up to 50 attendees.
However, pre-event testing will be required at wedding receptions for all attendees if there are more than 50 of them. Currently, testing is only needed if there are more than 100 attendees.
“Due to the higher risk at receptions where people are unmasked while enjoying their meals and come into close and prolonged contact mingling with one another, pre-event testing for all attendees (including the wedding couple) will be required for wedding receptions involving more than 50 attendees,” MOH said.
Mr Wong said that while authorities hope the measures will slow down the spread of COVID-19, another circuit breaker is not out of the question.
"If new unlinked cases continue to emerge in the coming days and weeks, then certainly, we will not hesitate to take even more stringent measures, even the possibility of having to enter another circuit breaker down the road," he said.
"But let's try to avoid that scenario, and let's all do our part."