S'pore tightens dining in, Covid-19 rules as KTV cluster grows; pivoted night spots to suspend operations
SINGAPORE – The Covid-19 cluster linked to KTV outlets has grown to 120 people since the index case was identified five days ago, and poses a “major setback” to Singapore’s reopening, said Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong on Friday (July 16) at a press conference held by the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19.
As a result, Singapore will tighten its rules on social gatherings from next Monday until Aug 8. This includes limiting dining in at food and beverage outlets to two people, down from five people currently.
However, fully vaccinated individuals will continue to be able to dine in groups of up to five at eateries with systems to verify customers’ vaccination status. Unvaccinated people with valid negative pre-event tests or recovered individuals may also join them.
A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose.
Speaking at the same press conference, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said the current situation is especially worrying because the KTV patrons cannot be easily identified.
“Today, the worry is that we don’t know who the patrons are… if they visited the KTV lounges, if they went home and interacted with parents or grandparents,” he added, noting that unvaccinated seniors might be in “grave danger”.
It is different from last year’s dormitory outbreak, for instance, when infected migrant workers were segregated from the general community. Most of them were also relatively young and therefore did not pose a strain on the healthcare system.
From Monday, cases have been progressively identified from visitors to KTV lounges that had pivoted to serving food and beverages during the pandemic to remain in business.
As a precaution, starting Friday, all nightlife establishments that had pivoted to food and beverage establishments will have their operations suspended until July 30.
There are over 400 such establishments.
The Health Ministry said staff of these establishments will all be tested during this period. It will also inspect safe management protocols and ensure these are properly implemented before they are allowed to resume operations.
In its statement on Friday, MOH said concessions on dining in will be made for children aged 12 and below, as they are not eligible for vaccination and it is challenging to swab them for pre-event testing.
This means children will be able to dine in with their vaccinated family members. However, the whole group must not exceed five people.
In addition, children should not constitute more than half the dine in group if they are not from the same household.
Also, working from home will remain the default and social gatherings at the workplace will not be allowed.
Finance Minister Lawrence Wong added that the Government will extend the 10 per cent Jobs Support Scheme funding for affected sectors from July 26 to Aug 8.
This will help licensed F&B businesses, gyms, fitness studios, performing arts organisations and arts education centres.
Rental waivers and subsidies for fees for table cleaning and centralised dishwashing services at hawker centres will also be extended by one month. This applies to centres managed by the National Environment Agency (NEA) or NEA-appointed operators.
Read next: What you need to know about the tightening of Covid-19 measures from July 19
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