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Transcript of Minister Lawrence Wong's Opening Remarks at The Multi-Ministry Taskforce Doorstop Interview on 7 July 2021

07 Jul 2021

Good afternoon, let me start by thanking everyone once again for your cooperation during the period of heightened alert. Through our combined efforts, we have been able to bring the infection under control. Importantly, we have made very good progress in our vaccination programme as you heard just now. So we can now proceed with the next stage of our reopening.

In particular, with effect from 12th of July, groups of up to five persons will be able to dine in at F&B establishments. Wedding receptions will also resume on the basis that if you have a group size of up to 250 persons, then you will need pre-event testing. If it's up to 50 persons, then the pre-event testing will only need to apply to the wedding party.

Likewise, indoor, high intensity activities like in the gyms and fitness centers, without masks on, the group sizes of five persons will now apply. You can have an overall class of up to 50 persons or the capacity limit of the venue, whichever is lower. At workplaces, work from home remains the default but social gatherings at workplaces will be allowed, subject to the group size of five persons, in line with the broader prevailing community rules.

Effectively, we are going up to five persons across the board, and that will apply on 12th of July. We had earlier also rolled out a new regime of testing for staff working in higher-risk settings like F&B, personal care services, gyms and fitness centres. We call this, the Fast and Easy Test using antigen rapid test kits. Over the past few weeks, we have onboarded companies, businesses, onto this new regime, and we have put many of the systems and processes in place.

So with effect from 15th of July, this new regime of Fast and Easy Testing will be made mandatory for all the staff who are working in these higher-risk settings, particularly dining-in, F&B, personal care services, gyms and fitness studios.

Beyond 12th of July, as Minister Ong said just now, as our vaccination coverage continues to increase, we will look at differentiated measures, differentiated safe management measures for vaccinated persons. As explained, there is a good public health basis for this, because if you have been vaccinated, you get good protection against the infection and against severe illness. Therefore, you don't need to have such strict measures applied to a vaccinated person or to groups of vaccinated persons.

But if you’re not vaccinated, then obviously you will not benefit from the protection of the vaccine, and you will therefore require a set of tighter Safe Management Measures to keep yourself safe. So what are we looking at?

Basically, if the overall situation remains stable, and when we reach 50% of the population in Singapore being fully vaccinated – we should get there by around end-July – we will consider the following measures:

One, for activities and venues like cinemas, religious services, MICE events, live performances, spectator sports and wedding solemnisations, we could have a doubling in the group size, if they are attended by fully vaccinated persons. So a religious service attended entirely by fully vaccinated persons – instead of a 250 person-limit, we could double it to 500 persons.

For higher-risk, indoor, mask-off activities like F&B dining, we could differentiate the guidelines so that a group size of up to 8 persons could be allowed for fully vaccinated persons. Otherwise, the group size will remain at five persons.

Work from home will continue, but we can allow more to return to the workplace, based on the percentage of the total employees who are fully vaccinated.

So these are three aspects where we will consider having differentiated safe management guidelines for vaccinated persons, come the end of July, when we reach half of our population being fully vaccinated.

Obviously, there are still details to be worked out. For example, there are still unvaccinated persons. There are also people who are not eligible for the mRNA vaccines, including children.

So we will have to work out what guidelines might apply for these groups of people. We will look through these details and we will announce the new measures nearer the implementation date. But we wanted to share with everyone now to give a sense of what you can expect in the coming weeks.

All this is part of the broader roadmap that we are working out, which we will also share as part of our reopening and as part of our transition towards a scenario of endemic Covid-19. That roadmap will cover local measures within Singapore as well as travel-related measures.

We hope all of these would once again encourage everyone to take up the vaccination, or to bring forward your appointments and get vaccinated earlier. As we see our vaccination coverage and our vaccination rates continue to rise steadily over the coming weeks and months, we will be able to proceed confidently with our reopening plans.

Thank you.