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Some companies keeping current COVID-19 measures but prepared to tighten them if situation worsens

Some companies keeping current COVID-19 measures but prepared to tighten them if situation worsens

People seen in the central business district in Singapore on Mar 29, 2022. (Photo: CNA/Marcus Mark Ramos)

SINGAPORE: Some companies in Singapore are keeping their current safe-management measures despite the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, but told CNA they will monitor the situation and introduce stricter requirements if necessary.

Chan Brothers Travel, which has measures including staggered work and lunch hours and flexible work-from-home arrangements, said it will continue with its approach.

It is a similar case for Pegasus Travel, although the local firm said it is prepared to revert to a split-team arrangement – where half of its workers work from home while the rest work in the office – if the situation worsens.

“Currently, our staff all have to wear masks while in the office unless they have their own rooms, then it’s up to them whether they want to wear it or not,” said the company’s managing director Charles Tan.

Other companies such as local bank OCBC told CNA they were doing the same – keeping current measures but being ready to adapt if necessary.

COVID-19 regulations for workplaces in Singapore were eased in June, when all workers were allowed to return to the office with no safe-distancing requirements. While masks continue to be mandatory indoors, employees can remove their masks as long as they are not interacting physically with others and not in customer-facing areas.

Nearly 10,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Singapore on Wednesday (Jul 6) – 9,525 local and 464 imported infections. This came a day after the country reported 12,784 daily cases, its highest since Mar 22.

The surge in infections has prompted at least one company here to tighten measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

On Monday, tourist attraction Madame Tussauds Singapore re-established safe-distancing requirements for its employees, preventing group gatherings and requiring staff members to dine alone at work.

They are also now required to wear masks at all times unless they are eating or drinking.

Previously, employees were allowed to eat together during their one-hour lunch break and could take their masks off in the office as long as they weren’t interacting physically with others or in customer-facing areas.

"As our business is highly reliant on frontline staff, we cannot afford an internal cluster forming,” said the attraction’s head of commercial operations Sylvia Tan. “We need to ensure business continuity and make sure that our business can continue to run.

“The last thing we want to do is to put our workers at risk. We cannot control what they do out of work, but when they are at work, it’s our responsibility to make sure that our staff are safe.”

The company is also providing free masks and gloves for employees, especially those who are in customer-facing roles.

“We are quite strict on all these sanitising measures to make sure that our teams are safe,” she said, adding that employees are encouraged to change their masks and gloves after coming into contact with high-touch surfaces or areas.

None of the companies CNA contacted said they will be reinstating mandatory regular testing.

“There’s no need to do so at the moment, so we’ll only do that if someone is exposed to a COVID-19 infection in the workplace,” said Ms Tan. “So if someone goes out after work with a friend and a friend has caught COVID, we will not cover that.

“But we will provide ART kits if someone on-site tests positive and then everyone around them will be issued ART kits too.”

Pegasus Travel’s Mr Tan said his company has no plans to reactivate mandatory routine testing and will take the cue from the Government.

“For us, we will follow the guidelines issued by Singapore Tourism Board or the Ministry of Health. There’s no requirement to have mandatory routine testing yet, so we don't have routine testing going on at this point in time,” he said.

"But if necessary, then of course, we will revert to what we did in the past, such as testing ourselves every week.”

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Source: CNA/vl(cy)

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