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Vaccination-differentiated rules remain for F&B outlets, large events, nightlife venues even as mask-wearing becomes optional

Vaccination-differentiated rules remain for F&B outlets, large events, nightlife venues even as mask-wearing becomes optional

Office workers at Telok Ayer Coffee Shop on Jan 3, 2022. (Photo: CNA/Grace Yeoh)

SINGAPORE: Vaccination-differentiated safe management measures (VDS) will remain for food and beverage (F&B) outlets, large events and nightlife venues, even as mask-wearing becomes optional for these places from next Monday (Aug 29).

Speaking at a press conference held by the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force on Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong reiterated that VDS checks are currently only required for events with more than 500 participants and dining in at F&B outlets. 

However, Mr Wong added that F&B outlets no longer check for vaccination status because the onus is placed on the individual, and random spot checks are conducted by the authorities.

"For now, we are retaining this approach ... there is no change to this because vaccinations are still the best way to protect ourselves against severe disease from COVID-19," said Mr Wong. 

This means that only fully vaccinated individuals will be able to dine in at F&B outlets, attend large events with more than 500 participants at any one time or enter nightlife venues. 

The Singapore Nightlife Business Association (SNBA) said it welcomed the continuation of VDS measures for nightlife establishments. 

"Keeping VDS requirements is good, as the high vaccination rates have helped Singapore ride through the last COVID-19 wave," said Mr Nasen Thiagarajan, president of the Singapore Nightlife Business Association.

However, mask-wearing at events will be optional from next Monday, said Mr Wong adding that events are not essential services where a higher proportion of older people are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19. 

Mr Wong added that event organisers and venue operators can decide on whether participants will have to wear their masks. 

"Event organisers and venue operators may well decide on a case-by-case basis, depending on the settings, depending on the event, that they would still continue with masks as a requirement," he said.

"Allowing optional masks indoors will help guests and staff alike make their own choices. Nightlife establishments can then focus on good customer service and their business as they will not have to keep reminding customers to mask up," said Mr Nasen.

He also said that the move will make it a lot easier for staff not handling the preparation of food and drink, as wearing the masks and working for 6 to 8 hours in a nightlife establishment has been uncomfortable for them. 

The Restaurant Association of Singapore also welcomed the easing of mask-wearing rules. 

"We are confident that customers and consumers will continue to exercise discretion and good conscience in not engaging in high-risk activities including masking off when it is inappropriate to do so," it said. 

The association, which represents more than 800 brands that operate over 5,000 restaurants, also asked for all restaurant businesses to continue to uphold clean and safe standards such as washing hands properly and regularly sanitising high-touch surfaces. 

From next Monday, people in Singapore will not be required to wear a mask except on public transport and in healthcare facilities. 

Masks will still have to be worn on transport modes such as the MRT, LRT and public buses, as well as in indoor public transport facilities like boarding areas at bus interchanges and MRT platforms. 

But they will not be required at airports, naturally ventilated bus interchanges and in the retail areas of bus interchanges, MRT and LRT stations.

Masks will be optional on private transport modes such as taxis, school buses and private bus services, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a separate press release on Wednesday. 

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Source: CNA/yb(ta)

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