Pandemic to Endemic in Singapore Oct 2021 - Are You In On The Newest Rules?

Pandemic to Endemic in Singapore Oct 2021 – Are You In On The Newest Rules?

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The Singapore government has set out conditions and plans to tackle COVID-19 in Singapore, including limiting social gatherings and encouraging senior citizens to get booster shots. 

If you can’t beat them, join them — that’s how Singapore has been dealing with COVID-19 in recent months. 

The country is on its way towards living with COVID-19, officially shifting from being in a pandemic to an endemic, no thanks to the rising number of cases. 

As of 28 September 2021, the Ministry of Health (MOH) declared that 4,482,167 people have completed the full vaccination regimen — that’s over a whopping 80% of the nation’s population and also one of the highest rates in the world. 

According to Bloomberg, China’s fully vaccinated rate is 73%, while the European Union and the United States have fully vaccinated 65% and 55% of their populations respectively. 

With most of the Singaporean population vaccinated and booster programmes under way, Singapore’s top priority has been to reopen, but with restrictions.

Latest COVID-19 rules and restrictions in Singapore 

In case you haven’t heard, here are the measures from 27 September 2021 onwards (updated 25 September 2021 on MOH’s website):

Food and beverage establishments

  • Dine-in allowed only for groups of maximum two pax
  • Both must be fully vaccinated
  • No dining in allowed for unvaccinated people

Coffee shops and hawker centres

  • Dine-in allowed only for groups of maximum two pax, regardless of vaccination status

Live performances, MICE, spectator and participatory sports events

  • If all are vaccinated: 1,000 attendees
  • Unvaccinated: 50 attendees without PET
  • Group size limited to two people
  • Unmasking and singing or playing of wind instruments at live performances for vaccinated performers are allowed

Social gatherings

  • Public places: Up to two people per group and maximum of one gathering a day

Household visits

  • Up to two unique visitors per day
  • Cap on visitors does not apply to grandchildren being cared for by grandparents

Cinemas

  • All vaccinated: 1,000 attendees, F&B may be served in groups of up to two people
  • Unvaccinated: 50 attendees without PET

Outdoor activities

  • Mask-on or mask-off: two people per group regardless of vaccination status. More details in SportSG’s advisory

Shopping malls and showrooms

  • Maximum of one person per 10 sqm

Gyms and fitness studios

  • Mask-off: All must be fully vaccinated
  • Two people per group

Cruise 

  • Operating capacity of 50%

Workplaces 

  • Work-from-home as the default
  • Suspension of 10-day snap work-from-home regime
  • No cross-deployment
  • Social gatherings not allowed

Museums and public libraries

  • Capacity must not exceed 50%

Weddings — marriage solemnisations

  • All fully vaccinated: 1,000 attendees
  • Unvaccinated: 50 attendees without PET
  • Group size limited to two people

Weddings — wedding receptions

  • All fully vaccinated: 250 attendees
  • Group size limited to 5 people only
  • Limited to one reception only

Hotels

  • Maximum two people per room, unless they are from the same household (subject to room’s maximum capacity)

Home-based businesses

  • Subject to safe management measures
  • Up to two unique visitors per day

Congregational and worship services

  • All fully vaccinated: 1,000 worshippers
  • Unvaccinated: 50 attendees without PET
  • Unmasking and singing or playing of wind instruments is allowed, subject to safe management measures

Massage parlours, spas, saunas and hair salons

  • Mask-off services allowed, only if customer is vaccinated

Funerals

  • Up to 30 people at any point in time on all days

Tour groups

  • Up to 50 people for conveyance tours (e.g. Duck Tours, etc)
  • Up to 20 people for non-conveyance tours

In-person tuition and enrichment classes

  • Up to 50 people per class, in groups of up to two
  • In-person classes serving students aged 12 years and below must be shifted online or otherwise be suspended until 10 October 2021

What does an endemic signify and what does it mean for the community?

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he believed that COVID-19 would not disappear — it will instead “remain with humankind and become endemic”.

But what exactly does that mean?

According to CNA, the term endemic describes “diseases that are constantly present within a population, with infection rates maintained at a predictable rate”. Simply put, COVID-19 might just be like your common cold or the flu — it will live within the population and not go away. 

Take for example, dengue fever. It is considered endemic in the population, but one that can be controlled with proper measures.

If you live in a HDB, you would’ve definitely seen posters educating the public about mosquito breeding along lift landings, or even the big banners hung around pillars informing you about the number of dengue cases in your neighbourhood. You may have even heard of Project Wolbachia, and the small black containers (they’re called Gravitrap, by the way) that randomly appear in stairwells. 

So you see, Singapore spends a tonne of money (we’re talking about millions!) each year in a bid to keep mosquito populations down. Sure, those pesky, blood-sucking creatures won’t be gone forever, but at least the National Environment Agency (NEA) is doing their best to squash those mosquitoes numbers.

This approach may apply to COVID-19, where the government tries to suppress the number of infections instead of trying to get rid of it totally. 

As for the community, all that we are responsible for now is observing public health measures and taking personal precautions so as to not affect our loved ones (especially the elderly and immunocompromised). Also, masks may just be here to stay for a long, long time. 

Living with COVID-19 — the new normal

It is highly likely that the number of COVID-19 cases will continue to increase or remain high. We simply need to learn to live with it, protect our elderly and vulnerable, and ensure that public health measures are in place. 

Sooner or later, the world is set to transition to COVID-19 being endemic, and Singapore shows what that could look like. The shift to ‘living with COVID-19’ requires a change in mindset, from an obsession with absolute case counts to focusing on cases that may require hospitalisation instead. 

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