SINGAPORE: Households will only be able to receive a maximum of eight visitors per day from Jan 26 given the recent rise in community COVID-19 cases and the possible risk of transmission during the Chinese New Year period.
People should also limit themselves to visiting no more than two households per day as much as possible, announced Minister for Education Lawrence Wong on Friday (Jan 22).
Speaking at a COVID-19 multi-ministry task force press conference, Mr Wong said: “We only need to recall what happened last year when we indeed saw a spike in cases after Chinese New Year, and we had many clusters linked to Chinese New Year gatherings.
“This was last year, we don’t want a repeat of that happening. And that’s why we are making a pre-emptive move now to tighten some of our measures.”
Currently, up to eight visitors are allowed in each household at any one time, with no limit on the number of homes they can visit.
The maximum group size for social gatherings outside the house will remain at eight, for now, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a media release.
“That said, everyone should keep their social circle small instead of mixing with multiple social groups. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and impose further measures as necessary,” said MOH.
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MEASURES WHILE CONDUCTING LOHEI
Those who are dining out must avoid talking loudly during their meal. This means the Chinese New Year tradition of "lohei" should be conducted without any verbalisation of the usual auspicious phrases, said Mr Wong, co-chair of the task force.
Face masks must also be worn during the tossing of yusheng, in line with the current rules on wearing a mask when diners are not eating or drinking.
Mr Wong noted that singing and other live performances are already not allowed at F&B establishments and work-related events where food is served.
The prevailing rules at F&B establishments will also apply to all reunion dinners, meaning multiple table bookings are not allowed except for people from the same household, he reiterated.
There should also not be any intermingling across tables, said MOH.
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Enforcement checks at F&B establishments, malls and other crowded public spaces during this period will be stepped up, and strict enforcement actions will be taken against individuals and business operators who do not comply with safe management measures, said Mr Wong.
“The virus is raging everywhere in the world, and including in places all around Asia, which have up to now been successful in controlling the infection. Many of these places are now seeing new cases emerging, including in Singapore,” he said, adding that China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are also putting in place similar restrictions for Chinese New Year.
“So let us be mentally prepared that Chinese New Year this year will not be the same as before. It will be quieter, it will be more subdued. And we will have to be more disciplined in how we go about our daily activities and interactions.”