The Government will consider removing the five-person limit for gatherings to enable larger families and friend groups to spend time together, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.
A matter of concern, however, is that individuals will have to remove their masks to eat and drink in activities involving dining, he told Parliament on Monday (5 October).
“The risk is considerably higher than in activities during which we can keep our masks on and maintain a safe distance,” said the Minister.
Mr Gan was responding to a question from West Coast Member of Parliament (MP) Foo Mee Har on whether the social and dining group size limit of five persons will be reviewed in Phase Three.
East Coast MP Jessica Tan asked the Minister on what can be expected in the further easing of measures and when such measures will be carried out.
Mr Gan said that it is currently piloting events with a large number of attendees such as trade exhibitions, conferences and religious worship “to assess whether we can maintain effective precautions and safe distancing measures”.
“If these pilots are successful, we will be able to use the lessons learnt to allow more large-scale events to proceed,” he said.
The Government, Mr Gan added, will also consider facilitating the opening up of overseas travel in a safe and calibrated manner.
The multi-ministry taskforce on COVID-19 is also currently working on a roadmap towards further reopening, which will be shared in the coming weeks, he said.
Sengkang MP Louis Chua asked Mr Gan on whether there will be additional parameters or guidelines for businesses and individuals to enable them to “plan in advance” in relation to the Phase Three roadmap.
The Workers’ Party MP highlighted that the arrangement cited by Mr Gan for employees working from home to return to their workplaces was announced only five days before the measure was introduced on 28 September.
He replied that his Ministry is currently working with the Ministry of Manpower and the Ministry of Trade and Industry to address different challenges in different sectors.
Touching on the short notice period referred to by Mr Chua in his question, Mr Gan said that such is due to a lack of urgency in meeting a deadline.
“For example, you allow workers to go back to work … You can start on Monday, you can start next week, you can start next month,” he illustrated.
“It is not a requirement that you must get them to go back to work, and therefore there is no need for a lead time to prepare,” said the Minister. “You can take as long as you need to prepare yourself and to discuss with your employees [on] how to introduce this flexible arrangement.”