SINGAPORE: From May 12, all traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) halls will be able to sell retail products, said Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong on Friday (May 8).
Currently, only about 130 TCM halls with registered practitioners are allowed to sell retail products. They had been given the green light to do so on May 5, after the authorities announced last week the easing of some COVID-19 "circuit breaker" measures.
READ: 'Minor adjustments' to circuit breaker measures from May 5, acupuncture among services to be allowed
However, Mr Gan said authorities received feedback that some elderly residents have had to travel too far to buy medicine from the TCM halls that were allowed to operate.
It was an issue raised in Parliament on Monday by Member of Parliament Lee Bee Wah.
Ms Lee questioned why TCM shops had to close during the circuit breaker, while pharmacies are allowed to remain open. She also noted that food retail outlets have been given the go-ahead to reopen on May 12.
Responding to her concerns, Mr Gan said in Parliament that the Ministry of Health will review the rules.
“I have asked the Ministry of Health to do a review, and I'm happy to share that from May 12, TCM medical halls will be allowed to sell retail products," Mr Gan announced during a multi-ministry press conference on Friday.
"This will provide more convenience, especially to our seniors.”
Mr Gan added that all TCM medical halls must put in place safe distancing measures before reopening for business.
READ: ‘Don’t rush to go out’ after businesses reopen, COVID-19 circuit breaker to ease gradually: Lawrence Wong
The Health Minister also announced on Friday that authorities aim to test about 16,000 residents at nursing homes for COVID-19 over the next few weeks, as part of further measures to protect the elderly and prevent the virus from spreading.
Testing has already been completed for 9,000 nursing home employees, with one positive case at Ren Ci nursing home in Ang Mo Kio.
Watch the full press conference: