Singapore on track to increasing group sizes for 'higher-risk' settings in July, including for dining-in: Lawrence Wong
SINGAPORE: Singapore is on track to allowing group sizes for higher-risk settings such as dining-in at eateries to increase to five as planned in mid-July, said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong on Thursday (Jun 24).
Speaking at a COVID-19 multi ministry task force press conference, Mr Wong noted that there are plans to make several "immediate moves" over the next few weeks.
"First is the next stage of our reopening - specifically to move from two persons to five persons for higher-risk settings like F&B (food and beverage) dining-in. We had said earlier that we planned to do this sometime around mid-July.
"With the vaccine on track, with regular testing of workers in these higher-risk settings proceeding, we should be able to get there," he said.
"Exactly what, when, this will be, we will work out the dates and we will give some advance notice but this is something we should be able to proceed on."
Singapore began to gradually reopen on Monday, with a number of restrictions easing, including the resumption of dining-in.
However, this was only allowed in groups of up to two people, instead of up to five as previously planned.
Dining-in had not been allowed since May 16 amid the rising number of COVID-19 community cases.
READ: People vaccinated against COVID-19 will be given 'some concession' when overseas travel resumes: Gan Kim Yong
READ: About half of COVID-19 cases in Bukit Merah View market cluster not vaccinated: Assoc Prof Mak
Mr Wong also noted that there are plans to revise the public health guidelines for those who are vaccinated.
This would apply in two aspects, he said.
"We could allow gatherings involving just vaccinated persons to have larger group sizes and also relax the social distancing rules in such settings because only vaccinated persons are involved," Mr Wong said.
"So that's within Singapore and this could apply to a whole range of different settings, religious services, concerts, sporting events and so on. So that's one area of work that we are working on."
There could also be changes to the outbound travel restrictions for Singaporeans.
"Potentially we are working on some new guidelines for people in Singapore to be able to travel abroad. And then when you come back, you either can serve a shortened SHN (Stay-Home Notice), a quarantine time under the Stay-Home Notice would be shorter, or may be waived entirely and replaced with some tests, and this will depend on the country that you visit," he said.
READ: Dining-in, working out: What you can and cannot do from Jun 21 as Singapore's COVID-19 reopening continues
READ: Singapore targets having two-thirds of population fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by National Day
"These are the potentially revised guidelines that would apply to vaccinated persons. We are still working through them and we will announce them when we are ready."
Ultimately, Mr Wong emphasised the need for vaccinations. This, he said, has been highlighted across the globe.
"At the end of the day, whether it is in Singapore or anywhere in the world, this is really a race between the virus and vaccination. And so, it is of utmost importance, as everyone on the panel has already said, for us to get our vaccination rates up," said Mr Wong.