SINGAPORE: Work-from-home will continue to remain the default, even as Singapore transitions through Phase 3 (Heightened Alert) in the coming weeks, announced the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Friday (Jun 18).
For employees who need to be in the workplace, start times must be staggered and flexible working hours implemented. Workers should not be cross-deployed to multiple worksites.
Workplaces are also not allowed to have social gatherings or serve food and beverages at work-related events, said MOH.
Singapore moved into the first stage of Phase 3 (Heightened Alert) on Jun 14, after a fall in the number of COVID-19 community cases. More restrictions will be eased in the second stage from Jun 21, when dining-in at F&B outlets can resume in groups of two.
EXTENDED SUPPORT MEASURES
Measures such as the Jobs Support Scheme, which subsidises local workers' salaries, will be extended for affected sectors.
Businesses in sectors that were required to remain closed until Jun 20 were to receive 50 per cent subsidy for these workers' wages until then, then 10 per cent until end-June.
However, with some restrictions still in place after Jun 20, sectors such as F&B, gyms and fitness studios and performing arts will now receive 50 per cent subsidy for three weeks from Jun 21 to Jul 11. They will receive 10 per cent for two weeks starting from Jul 12.
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Sectors that are significantly affected, such as retail, cinemas and museums, will receive 30 per cent subsidy for three weeks then 10 per cent for two weeks.
“We recognise that some businesses will be impacted and therefore, the Ministry of Finance will continue to extend the support measures,” said co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force Lawrence Wong at a press conference on Friday.
“Regrettably, we are unable to proceed with our second stage of reopening in light of the latest outbreaks and big cluster that we have discovered in Bukit Merah, and now we have to adjust our plans,” he said.
Hawkers who are self-employed will also receive rental waivers and subsidies for fees for table cleaning and centralised dishwashing services, he said. This will apply to stallholders in centres managed by the National Environment Agency or appointed operators.
For workers affected by the tighter measures, the COVID-19 recovery temporary grant will be extended to the end of July, Mr Wong said.
Recipients of this grant can apply for a second round of support in July. More details will be announced later, said MOH.
MANDATORY REGULAR TESTING FOR STAFF IN UNMASKED ACTIVITIES
Staff who work in high-risk settings with unmasked customers, or where there is prolonged contact between individuals, will have to undergo a 14-day testing cycle from mid-July.
The Government previously announced that people who work in these high-risk settings will have to go through regular COVID-19 testing, regardless of their vaccination status.
This includes staff of dine-in F&B outlets, personal care and appearance services that require removal of masks such as facials, saunas and make-up services, and gym and fitness studios where clients are unmasked.
“Most of such testing can be done through a system of self-swabs, by the employees themselves and supervised by the employers,” said Mr Wong.
The Government will provide free training for the next three months to employers for self-swabbing. Antigen rapid test kits will also be made available to employers.
Some F&B businesses have already sent their employees for training and are ready to implement regular testing progressively from Jun 21, MOH said.
For small businesses unable to organise the supervised self-swabs on their own, their staff can get tested at Quick Test Centres. One centre will be set up at Tekka and another in Yishun, and both will begin operating on Jun 21. More centres will be set up later.
The Government will also facilitate earlier vaccination of people who work in these settings to minimise COVID-19 transmission, MOH said.