SINGAPORE: Dining-in at F&B establishments will be reduced to groups of two for people who are not fully vaccinated, the co-chair of the multi-ministerial task force Gan Kim Yong announced.
Those who are fully vaccinated can continue to dine-in in groups of five, he added, speaking at a press conference on Friday (Jul 16).
F&B establishments “have the flexibility to decide” whether to introduce the vaccination-differentiated group sizes, depending on their own operating model, customers and whether they can check on the status of individuals dining in, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a separate press release.
This and other tightened measures for higher-risk indoor, mask-off settings will be in effect from Jul 19 to Aug 8.
“This targeted approach will better protect those who are yet to be vaccinated while allowing those who have been fully vaccinated to continue with the current measures,” said Mr Gan, who is also Minister for Trade and Industry.
A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after they have received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty or Moderna vaccines, said the Health Ministry.
Unvaccinated people with a valid negative pre-event COVID-19 test (PET) result or recovered individuals can also participate in such groups of five, the press release read.
Dining-in across the island in groups of five resumed on Monday, as the number of new COVID-19 community cases decreased in the week before.
These new measures come as a new cluster linked to KTV lounges emerged a day after dining-in in groups of five resumed. As of Friday, the cluster is linked to 120 cases, making it Singapore’s largest active COVID-19 cluster.
READ: All nightlife businesses that pivoted to F&B to be suspended for 2 weeks as KTV COVID-19 cluster grows
CHILDREN UNDER 12
Since children below the age of 12 are not eligible for any COVID-19 vaccine under Singapore’s national vaccination programme, these unvaccinated children can also dine with members of the same household without pre-event testing, the press release read.
“This whole group should not exceed five persons. If the children are not from the same household, then they should constitute not more than half the dine-in group,” said the Health Ministry.
At hawker centres, food courts and coffee shops, group sizes will remain at two people, said the Health Ministry.
These are “more porous” settings and generally do not impose compulsory SafeEntry check-ins, and it would be challenging to check whether the individuals have been vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19 before they seat themselves, said MOH.
Live performances, recorded music and videos will continue to be prohibited at F&B establishments.
READ: Group sizes for indoor high-intensity mask-off activities reduced amid tighter COVID-19 measures
As for wedding receptions, they can continue with groups of five per table, without the requirement for all individuals in the group to be fully vaccinated, said MOH.
There is also no change to the pre-event testing requirement - the reception can comprise up to 250 people with pre-event testing in place, and 50 people with pre-event testing only for the wedding party.
“We acknowledge that wedding couples have faced significant uncertainties over the past few months. Hence, we will allow this key life event to continue at current numbers and PET provisions, so that couples do not need to revise their wedding plans again,” said the Health Ministry.
POTENTIAL OF "VERY LARGE CLUSTERS" MERGING
“Why are we doing this? Because there is a real risk that the cases from these clusters would have spread to the community, especially if there are individuals who have not come forward for testing,” said co-chair of the multi-ministerial task force Lawrence Wong.
“And we suspect there are such individuals, and they would have spread the virus to the people around them. Potentially this means that we can see very large clusters emerging over the coming weeks.”
To deal with a similar emergence of a large cluster in the past, the Government would have opted for “very stringent” tightened measures, almost like a “circuit breaker”, said Mr Wong.
“But the difference today is that we have a much higher vaccination rate, and therefore we do not at this moment think there is a need for such significant tightening.
“Instead, we will take a more targeted approach, adjust our measures based on vaccination status, and also with an eye to the hospitalisation and ICU capacity in our system.”