COVID-19 laws in force indefinitely after amendments which include new details for post-circuit breaker

COVID-19 laws in force indefinitely after amendments which include new details for post-circuit breaker

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Singapore
People wearing face masks cross a street amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore on Jun 1, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su)

SINGAPORE: Amendments to the COVID-19 regulations, which were published in the Government Gazette just before they expired on Jun 2, mean the laws are now in force indefinitely and not just during the "circuit breaker" period.

A host of other detailed amendments were published in a notice at 11.59pm on Jun 1, after the various ministries had announced new guidelines for the phases post-circuit breaker.

The circuit breaker was a period between Apr 7 and May 4, later extended to Jun 1, meant to curb further spread of COVID-19 in Singapore.

The COVID-19 regulations gave legal force to safe distancing and other such measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, to urge people to mask up and stay home unless absolutely necessary.

Here is a list of some of the amendments published in the updated laws.

1. The Jun 1 end date was removed

One of the first amendments published late last night was for the phrase "for the period between 7 April 2020 and 1 June 2020 (both dates inclusive)" to be removed from the section explaining when the regulations are in force.

Instead, it has been substituted with the words "starting 7 April 2020", with no end date specified.

2. What "member of same household" means

New paragraphs in the amendment now state specifically what "member of the same household" means. 

Previously, it was stated that meeting anyone from a different household except for specific exceptions is illegal under the regulations.

A person is now regarded as a member of your household if they are your spouse, your parent, child, or sibling who ordinarily lives in the same house as you.

Also, this now includes a person you have an agreement with, whether orally or in writing, expressly or implied, to live in the same residence.

References to parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, siblings also mean step-parents, step-grandparents, step-children, step-grandchildren, step-siblings, or adopted family members.

3. Visiting allowances

The amendments also reflect the new allowances for people to socialise with specific members of the family, as previously announced.

Now, people are allowed to visit their parents, their grandparents, or their spouse's parents or grandparents.

However, households cannot receive more than two visitors a day, and these two people must be from the same household themselves.

READ: Necessary for Singapore to fast-track COVID-19 laws amid unprecedented situation - Lawyers

4. Social gatherings

Regulation 6, the regulation on social gatherings that previously made all forms of socialising outside of your household illegal, has also been amended.

Now, a person must not meet another person not from their household anywhere outside of home unless it is for work.

There are a few exceptions, such as for receiving education or care from a public body, a specified school or a licensed early childhood development centre.

5. When face shields may be worn in lieu of face masks

A person or child may wear a face shield instead of a face mask in the following scenarios:

If wearing a mask in the required manner leads to severe medical conditions that wearing a face shield does not, or if the person is delivering a speech, teaching or lecturing in a lecture hall, classroom, auditorium or other room and is at least a metre away from any other individual while doing so.

READ: Masks to be worn as default, face shields allowed only for certain settings and groups like children aged 12 and below

6. Weddings and funerals post-circuit breaker

Weddings can be held but only the bride and groom and eight guests are allowed to attend in person.

There are also specific rules for where it can be held - such as a place of worship, in the bride or groom's home or immediate family's home, or a building occupied by the Registries of Marriages or Muslim Marriages.

People in charge at funeral events must take all reasonable steps to ensure that there are not more than 10 individuals attending the wake or event at any time. The usual safe distancing rules apply.

7. Businesses in phase 1

Shops and enterprises that have resumed business must abide by newly stated obligations, such as allowing natural ventilation of the premises during working hours, having procedures and controls for assessing every visitor or customer for symptoms and refusing entry to suspected symptomatic cases.

If people who enter the shops are symptomatic cases and not wearing a mask, the business must try its best to provide the individual with a mask and require them to wear it, and to ask them to leave immediately.

Common areas must be periodically cleaned each day by law, and toilets not open to the public must be provided at all times with adequate toilet paper, liquid soap or detergent, litter bins and clean towels or hand dryers.

Disinfecting agents like hand sanitisers, disinfectant sprays, paper towels and wipes must also be provided at all times up to a point where it is reasonably practicable, for the free use of customers, visitors and employees.

8. Non-permitted enterprises and working from home

Anyone who is not a permitted enterprise worker cannot work anywhere other than from home, and only through means that do not require meeting any individual in person.

Flouting any of these regulations can earn an offender up to six months' jail, a fine of up to S$10,000, or both for the first offence.

BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus outbreak and its developments

Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram

Source: CNA/ll(ac)

Bookmark