Safe distancing ambassadors to be scaled back, redeployed over time as COVID-19 restrictions ease: Lawrence Wong
SINGAPORE: Safe distancing ambassadors will be scaled back over time and redeployed to other sectors as COVID-19 safe management measures in Singapore are eased, said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong on Thursday (Mar 24).
Responding to a reporter's question during a COVID-19 multi-ministry task force press conference, Mr Wong said that while restrictions have eased, there are still requirements to comply with.
Earlier, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had announced that Singapore will double the size of group gatherings from five to 10 people and make mask-wearing outdoors optional from Mar 29, as part of the country’s “decisive step forward” towards living with COVID-19.
Mr Lee also said that Singapore will also reopen its borders to vaccinated travellers from Apr 1.
Mr Wong, who co-chairs the COVID-19 task force, said that even as measures are eased, there will still be a need for safe distancing ambassadors and enforcement officers.
"But obviously, in this new regime, we want to also encourage everyone to take on more social and personal responsibility, and rely less on external forces or enforcement checks," he said.
If more people can uphold personal responsibility, then over a period of time, Singapore will "scale back" the number of people employed as safe distancing ambassadors, he said.
This will allow these people to be redeployed in other sectors for which there are "huge demands for manpower", said Mr Wong.
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said that while the demand for safe distancing ambassadors will fall, many of the operational staff in the health sector doing jobs like vaccinations, contact tracing and at call centres are from the aviation sector.
"We expect them to return to their posts very soon as our borders open. So some redeployment opportunities will be available and we'll continue to explore other opportunities that we can place the SDAs," he said.
"But having said that, as mentioned by Minister Lawrence Wong, we are going through a tight labour market and there are actually vacancies in various sectors as well."