Singapore to relax Covid restrictions as vaccination rate increases
A poster reminding people to keep a safe distance from each other can be seen at the National Gallery of Singapore on March 30, 2020.
Ore Huiying | Getty Images News | Getty Images
SINGAPORE — Singapore’s government said Friday it will start relaxing Covid-19 measures next week as the proportion of vaccinated people increases.
The government has revised Covid measures multiple times since May due to an increase in locally transmitted infections — many caused by the more transmissible delta variant. The country last tightened measures on July 22 by banning dining in and limiting social gatherings.
Singapore’s Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said the number of daily cases has stabilized since the latest restrictions were imposed. During that time, the share of people who received two doses of Covid vaccine rose from around 40% to 67% as of Thursday.
“We prevented an uncontrollable rise in infections, severe illnesses and deaths,” Ong, who co-chairs the country’s Covid task force, told reporters at a briefing.
Singapore has one the fastest vaccination rollouts globally. Ong said the proportion of fully-vaccinated people would rise to around 70% by Monday, when the country celebrates National Day.
But given that a “sizable” portion of the population is still not fully vaccinated, the government will implement differentiated social rules based on people’s vaccination status, said Gan Kim Yong, trade and industry ministry and co-chair of the coronavirus task force.
Differentiated Covid measures
From Tuesday next week, group sizes of social gatherings will be relaxed from two people to five. But the government “strongly” encouraged those who are unvaccinated to keep to groups of two.
Dine-in at food and beverage establishments will be allowed for groups of up to five people if all are fully vaccinated or have a negative Covid test in the last 24 hours. But dining at open-air food centers and coffee shops are only allowed for groups of up to two people, regardless of vaccination status.
The Singapore government also announced some easing of border restrictions.
From Tuesday, Singapore will allow the entry of more fully vaccinated work pass holders and their dependents. And from Aug. 20, fully vaccinated travelers from selected countries — including Australia, Canada, Germany and South Korea — can serve a mandatory quarantine at their homes.
“We’re now in a stronger position to resume with our re-opening journey, but in a cautious and calibrated way,” said Gan.
The government said it would relax measures further around early September when 80% of the population are expected to be fully vaccinated.