'Minor adjustments' to circuit breaker measures from May 5, acupuncture among services to be allowed
SINGAPORE: Details have been revealed of what activities and businesses can resume and when as Singapore gradually eases its “circuit breaker” measures, with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners among the first to have restrictions lifted.
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday (May 2), Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said while the tighter measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 will need to continue for at least another week, “minor adjustments” for some activities can begin from Tuesday.
“Specifically for traditional Chinese medicine, we will allow practitioners to do needle acupuncture for pain management,” he said.
Services such as cupping and moxibustion, as well as guasha and tuina manipulative therapies, will still be restricted.
Mr Wong - who is the co-chair of the multi-ministry task force tackling the pandemic - added that medical halls linked to TCM outlets would also be allowed to sell retail products from May 5, on top of the consultation and herbal dispensary services which they are already allowed to provide.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong - the task force's other co-chair - noted this was in line with the task force’s regular review of essential services, pointing to how allied health services such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy were allowed to resume from Apr 29.
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Restrictions on activities within the grounds of strata-titled residences such as condominiums or other private residential developments will also be lifted, said Mr Wong.
Activities such as exercising and dog walking are currently prohibited as it would be difficult to enforce safe distancing measures within such properties, and there was a concern that crowds would form.
“But we have done a review and we will allow activities, essential activities, to be carried out. Essentially, the same rules outside in a public area will now apply within the residential development as well,” said Mr Wong.
While enforcement officers will go into such properties to conduct checks and enforce the rules, Mr Wong called on the Management Corporation Strata Title (MCST) and managing agents of such properties to “do their part and also help with the enforcement”.
However, sports and recreation facilities within these developments - including pools, gyms, playgrounds and club houses - must remain closed.
READ: COVID-19: Some students to be allowed to go back to school from May 19 under easing of circuit breaker
HOME-BASED FOOD BUSINESSES CAN RESUME FROM MAY 12
Other selected activities and businesses would be allowed to resume operations from May 12, Mr Wong stated, noting these would include home-based food businesses.
In a press release, the Ministry of Health noted that home-based food businesses would be allowed to operate for delivery and collection only, with home-based private dining services still disallowed.
"Delivery and collection of food orders should be done in a safe and contactless manner, by appointment so that it can be spaced out, and there is no bunching of people," it noted.
Home-based businesses which provide other goods and services, such as jewellery and textiles, and which involve visitors, customers or third-party delivery services at the premises to collect or deliver goods, will have to remain closed until further lifting of the circuit breaker measures.
Barbers and hairdressers, as well as laundry services and pet food retailers will also be allowed to resume from May 12.
SELECTED F&B OPERATIONS TO RESUME
A joint advisory from Enterprise Singapore, the Housing Board (HDB), Singapore Food Agency, Singapore Tourism Board and the Urban Redevelopment Authority issued operational guidance on permissible activities and safe distancing measures to be taken by F&B estsablishments.
Food retail outlets, including those selling cakes, confectionery, packaged snacks and desserts, will be allowed to reopen on May 12 for takeaway and delivery.
Manufacturing and onsite preparation of all food, including cakes, confectionery, ice cream, cocoa, chocolate and chocolate products, can also start again.
Standalone stores predominantly selling beverages must remain closed. These include bubble tea shops and places selling alcoholic beverages.
F&B outlets, including food vending machines, in parks will remain close.
These do not include stores in hawker centres, food courts and coffee shops. They will be allowed to continue their operations "in entirety", the advisory said.
Dining-in is still not permitted at F&B establishments.
SAFE ENTRY APP
However, even as businesses gradually reopen up, “stricter guidelines and requirements” are required, said Mr Wong, adding that workplace safety and health guidelines must now take into account a range of practices needed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The authorities would also leverage on technology to support these efforts, he added.
Mr Wong said that businesses and services that reopen from May 12 will also be required to use the SafeEntry app - which logs details such as names, contact numbers and NRIC - for contact tracing.
The app will be used to log the details of employees and visitors as they enter and leave the premises.
“At places with transient populations on-the-move such as MRT stations and parks, there will not be mandatory SafeEntry checkpoints. But QR codes will be put up, and we encourage the public to scan in so that they may be reached should the need for contact tracing arise,” said the Health Ministry.
It noted data collected would only be used by authorised personnel for contact tracing, with “stringent measures” in place to safeguard the data. More details will be announced in the coming days.
Mr Wong cautioned that the measures may be adjusted again, given the “dynamic” situation at hand.
"We've mapped out a broad outline of how we intend to adjust the measures from May 5, and even beyond that in the coming weeks, so that everyone has a sense of what to expect through the rest of the circuit breaker period but I should caution that the situation is fluid,” he said.
“It's dynamic and the plans may well have to be further adjusted, depending on how the infection, and how the situation, unfolds in the coming days and weeks.”