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COVID-19: People 'should limit' social interactions to maximum of 2 a day, says MOH

COVID-19: People 'should limit' social interactions to maximum of 2 a day, says MOH

Seats marked out at Geylang Serai food centre on Jun 19, 2020, when Phase 2 of Singapore's reopening started. (File photo: Try Sutrisno Foo)

SINGAPORE: In view of the growing number of COVID-19 community cases, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Friday (Apr 30) that individuals should limit their social interactions.

While the current eight-person limit on unique household visitors and gatherings in public places remains in place, MOH’s guidance is that such social interactions should be capped at two per day.

“Over the past week, we have seen an increase in the number of local cases, some of which are currently unlinked and have resulted in the formation of community clusters,” the ministry said in a media release.

“We therefore have to move quickly to reduce the level of interactions in the community and break the chains of transmission.

“Going forward, all individuals should limit their overall number of social interactions, to not more than two per day, whether visiting another household or meeting with friends/family members in a public place,” MOH said.

MALL LIMITS REINSTATED

Additional COVID-19 measures will be also be implemented from Saturday until May 14.

From Saturday, the occupancy limit at malls and large standalone stores will be reduced to one person per 10 sq m of gross floor area, down from the current one person per 8 sq m.

Odd and even date entry restrictions will also be reinstated at popular malls Lucky Plaza and Peninsula Plaza on Sundays. These restrictions were previously lifted on Apr 10 after being in place for nearly eight months.

Outdoor barbecue pits and campsites will also be closed to the public until May 14. These include barbecue pits at parks, HDB estates, condominiums and country clubs.

Finally, attractions that have received prior approval from the Ministry of Trade and Industry will have to reduce their operating capacity from 65 per cent to 50 per cent from May 7 to 14.

READ: Public places visited by COVID-19 cases in Tan Tock Seng Hospital cluster to close for 2 days 

INCONVENIENT, BUT NECESSARY: MINISTER

Speaking at a press conference by the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force, co-chair Lawrence Wong said that these measures are necessary even if they are inconvenient.

“We know these new restrictions will, you know, create inconvenience for everyone. It's not easy, because in the month of May, there are three public holidays. We have May Day coming up tomorrow, Hari Raya later on, and then Vesak Day, towards the end of May," he said.

“I know many are looking forward to these public holidays - you will have made plans, you may want to gather together, you may want to socialise, meet your family and friends - but I seek everyone's cooperation to scale back your social activities and comply with all the prevailing rules.

“This is the only way we can ensure that we slow down the spread of the virus in the community."



READ: 'I'm used to it already': Tan Tock Seng Hospital staff on the risks of working at the heart of a COVID-19 cluster

Mr Wong, who is also the Education Minister, added that further tightening of restrictions may be required, should the COVID-19 situation worsen.

“We have to be mentally prepared, too, that if the situation were to worsen - despite all that we are doing and despite all the new restrictions - if the situation were to worsen, we may have to consider further tightening and significantly reducing interactions in the community, with more stringent measures," he said.

“It's been about a year since we entered and then exited the ‘circuit breaker’, and since then we have embarked on a path of reopening and resumption of activities, but from the very start we have emphasised that this will not be a one-way street.

“There will be stops and starts, and there will be bumps along the way. We are encountering now one such bump in our journey of reopening.

“But let us also take confidence in the fact that, today, we have better capabilities and tools to control the infection.

“So if we stay disciplined and vigilant, and if we all do our part, I am confident we can get through this bump, and get back on track towards our path of reopening the economy.”

WORK-FROM-HOME ARRANGEMENTS

MOH also advised employers to allow their employees to work from home if they are able to do so.

The ministry said that employers should continue to stagger start times of employees who need to return to their workplaces and implement flexible working hours.

READ: COVID-19: Staff placed on leave of absence, 4 wards locked down as Tan Tock Seng Hospital moves to contain cluster

MOH added that public agencies working in the Novena area - where Tan Tock Seng Hospital is located - will be asking their staff to work from home where possible. These include the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore.

"These measures help lower transmission risks by reducing interactions at the workplace and in public places, including public transport," the ministry said.

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Source: CNA/kg(ac)

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