COVID-19: Social gathering size to be cut to 2 per group, work from home default

SINGAPORE — The permissible group size for distinct visitors per household and social gatherings will be cut from five to two persons, said the multi-ministry taskforce (MTF) on COVID-19 on Friday (14 May), amid a spike in community cases of the coronavirus in Singapore.

Individuals should continue to limit their overall number of social gatherings to not more than two per day, whether to another household, or meeting with friends and family members in a public place, the MTF said at a conference.

The curb is among the additional measures and restrictions under Phase 2 (Heightened Alert), which will take effect from 16 May to 13 June. A review of the measures' effectiveness will be held at the two-week mark of this period, to assess the possibility of easing or tightening them.

"If indeed the situation does not improve, we certainly will not rule out even more stringent measures thereafter. But there is also a chance that things may improve and, therefore, we may also consider the other way around, easing some of the restrictions," said Education Minister and MTF co-chair Lawrence Wong.

In order to allow families’ current childcare arrangements to continue, grandchildren being cared for by their grandparents on a daily basis would not be counted towards the cap of two distinct visitors per household, or to the number of social gatherings per day, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a media statement.

“However, grandparents are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated against COVID-19, to protect both themselves and their grandchildren from COVID-19 infection. To reduce the risk of transmission, grandparents should also minimise intermingling between grandchildren from different households,” the MOH said.

Also announced was the move to make work-from-home the default for workplaces.

“Employers must ensure that employees who are able to work from home do so. There should continue to be no cross-deployment of workers to multiple worksites. Employers should continue to stagger start times of employees who need to return to the workplace and implement flexible working hours,” MOH said.

Social gatherings at the workplace will not be allowed. Employees may have meal breaks at the workplace, but they must refrain from intermingling with their colleagues when their masks are taken off. These measures will lower transmission risks by reducing overall footfall and interactions at common spaces at or near the workplace, and in public places, including public transport.

The MOH on Thursday confirmed 34 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore, taking the country's total case count to 61,453.

There are 24 new community cases, with 20 linked to previous cases – 19 are linked to the Changi Airport cluster. Additionally, there are 10 imported cases, who had already been placed on Stay-Home Notice (SHN) or isolated upon arrival in Singapore, the MOH said.

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