Singapore eases Covid restrictions as vaccination charges rise

A poster will be on display at the National Gallery of Singapore on March 30, 2020, reminding people to keep a safe distance from each other.

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SINGAPORE – The Singapore government said Friday it will start easing Covid-19 measures next week as the proportion of people vaccinated increases.

The government has revised the Covid measures several times since May due to an increase in locally transmitted infections – many are caused by the more highly transmissible Delta variant. The country last tightened measures on July 22, banning eating and restricting social gatherings.

Singapore Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said the number of daily cases has stabilized since the recent restrictions were imposed. During that time, the proportion of people who received two doses of Covid vaccine rose from around 40% to 67% on Thursday.

“We have prevented an uncontrollable increase in infections, serious illnesses and deaths,” Ong, the co-chair of the country’s Covid task force, told reporters at a briefing.

Singapore has one of the fastest vaccinations in the world. Ong said the percentage of people fully vaccinated would rise to around 70% by Monday, when the country celebrates National Day.

However, with a “significant” portion of the population still not fully vaccinated, the government will introduce differentiated social rules based on people’s vaccination status, said Gan Kim Yong, Ministry of Commerce and Industry and co-chair of the coronavirus task force.

Differentiated Covid measures

From Tuesday next week, the group sizes of social gatherings will be relaxed from two to five people. But the government “strongly” encouraged those who were not vaccinated to stick to pairs.

Eating and drinking in catering facilities is allowed for groups of up to five people if they are all fully vaccinated or have had a negative Covid test in the last 24 hours. However, eating in open-air food centers and cafés is only allowed for groups of up to two people, regardless of their vaccination status.

The Singapore government also announced that it would ease its border restrictions.

Starting Tuesday, Singapore will allow fully vaccinated work card holders and their dependents to enter the country. And from August 20, fully vaccinated travelers from select countries – including Australia, Canada, Germany and South Korea – will be able to take a mandatory quarantine in their homes.

“We are now in a stronger position to continue our reopening journey, but in a cautious and calibrated way,” said Gan.

The government said it would ease measures further in early September, when 80% of the population is expected to be fully vaccinated.

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