Singapore to ease Covid-19 curbs in two phases from Monday

Groups of up to five can gather; dining in and other activities may be allowed from June 21

Singapore will relax restrictions on social gatherings in a two-step process from next Monday, when people will once again be allowed to gather in groups of up to five.

If all goes well, higher-risk activities such as dining in at food and beverage outlets may be allowed a week later, on June 21.

But working from home will remain the default for the entire period to reduce interaction in public areas and footfall on public transport, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday.

Urging vigilance, Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong, who co-chairs the task force handling the pandemic, said: "We may continue to see a few cases every day, but that's the nature of the virus."

The aim is to keep overall numbers low and avoid large clusters, he added.

In the first step of Singapore's staggered reopening, operating capacity limits for attractions, cruises, museums and public libraries will go up from 25 per cent to 50 per cent.

Size limits for events such as movie screenings and wedding solemnisations will also be increased, although pre-event testing must be in place for gatherings of more than 50 people.

When dining in is permitted, the authorities will be "significantly stepping up enforcement and will take firmer action for any breaches", MOH said.

Other activities such as wedding receptions and the playing of wind instruments at live performances will also be permitted, while gyms and fitness studios will be allowed to resume mask-off activities.

The number of new Covid-19 cases reported daily has fallen since tightened measures were put in place on May 16, when Singapore saw 38 community cases.

This number has remained in the single digits since Sunday, with most linked to other cases, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung noted yesterday.

The seven-day moving average of new cases stood at 11.9 on Wednesday, down from 22.6 at the peak of the outbreak.

Mr Ong highlighted how this wave of transmission was controlled without a circuit breaker (CB) using methods such as extensive contact tracing, vaccination and localised lockdowns of malls and schools.

"That means if there are any future outbreaks, we can use all these methods to control and break the chain of transmission, as opposed to a very blanket approach and a very painful CB," he said.

But the minister also warned against complacency, given how transmissible the Delta variant from India is.

Singapore will need to see the seven-day rolling average dip further and continue to report low cases for another 14-day virus incubation cycle, before it can be rest assured that most "embers of this virus... have been put out".