SINGAPORE – Indoor activities for which masks are usually removed – including dining out, exercise classes and facial treatments – will be cancelled starting Sunday (May 16) until June 13.
This is because recent clusters have shown that the new Covid-19 variants are more infectious, with transmission more likely to take place in indoor settings where people do not wear masks, said Education Minister Lawrence Wong, who takes up the finance portfolio on Saturday.
As well as prohibitions on eating at restaurants, hawker centres and other food and beverage outlets, people will not be allowed to take part in strenuous indoor exercise activities. This includes exercise classes as well as individual and group sports.
Personalised services which require masks to be removed, such as facials and saunas, will also be banned, along with activities that involve singing or the playing of wind or brass instruments.
Medical and dental services, however, will be allowed to continue.
At a press conference on Friday, Mr Wong gave details on the new rules that will impact weddings, funerals, movie screenings, live performances and worship services.
Wedding banquets will no longer be allowed, given the restrictions on dining out, although marriage solemnisations may continue. These are limited to 50 people, or 100 people if pre-event testing (PET) is in place.
Worship services, as well as live performances and business meetings, incentives, conferences and events, are also limited to 50 people without PET or 100 people if testing is carried out. Masks are to be worn at all times – even for speakers and performers – and no singing or playing of wind instruments will be allowed.
Similar rules will apply to cinemas, where groups cannot be larger than two persons and food and beverages cannot be sold or consumed.
And only 20 people will be allowed at funerals at any point in time, down from 30 people now.
“We believe with safe distancing, with proper precautions and safeguards, these activities can still continue,” Mr Wong said. “But we would like everyone to take the measures seriously and… scale back their social interactions.”
Transmission typically happens when people let their guard down during such interactions – for instance, when they go to a friend’s home and remove their mask during the visit, the minister added.
Under the tighter restrictions, shopping malls and showrooms will have their occupancy limits cut to one person per 16 sq m of gross floor area, down from one person per 10 sq m.
All attractions that received prior approval to operate at 50 per cent of their operating capacity will have to reduce this to 25 per cent. This also applies to museums and public libraries.
Apart from reducing community transmission, tightened restrictions are also necessary to protect Singapore’s frontline workers, such as nurses or supermarket staff, said President Halimah Yacob in a Facebook post on Friday evening.
She thanked such workers for their sacrifices, adding: “I am sure that Singaporeans will rise to the occasion and meet these challenges as how we have done in the past year.”
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