Transcript of Minister Lawrence Wong's Opening Remarks at The Multi-Ministry Taskforce Press Conference on 24 March 202224 Mar 2022
Good Morning. Let me reiterate my appreciation and thanks to everyone in Singapore, especially our healthcare and frontline workers, for your cooperation and sacrifices in this long fight against COVID-19.
We have gone through several ups and downs over the last two years, but we have continued to keep faith with one another, and we have persevered together along this journey. That is why we are now ready to make this significant move to ease up further.
You have already heard about the easing of the SMMs along the five key parameters or SMM 1-5. Let me just touch on these five points in Mandarin briefly.
Besides the five key parameters of the SMM 1-5 which we are easing, we are also making five additional adjustments that are setting-specific.
These will also apply from next Tuesday and let me touch on them briefly. First, dining-in at F&B establishments. With group size moving to 10 persons, you can have 10 fully vaccinated persons dining together in F&B establishments so long as there are upfront checks done at the entrance to ensure that these are fully vaccinated persons, but we recognise that some F&B operators face difficulties putting in place these access control points and doing these checks on their customers, especially for operators of coffee shops and hawker centres.
So, we will make some adjustments to the implementation on the ground. In particular, we will allow all F&B establishments to seat groups of up to five fully vaccinated persons without the need for full checks at the entrance. So, if you do not want to have the access control points and do full checks at the entrance, then you can have the flexibility of having five vaccinated persons dine-in together.
Instead of these upfront checks at the entrance, we will have random spot checks to ensure that only vaccinated persons are dining in at these places, and the onus will be placed on the dining-in individuals to abide by the rules, namely that they should be fully vaccinated. We hope this will ease the operational burden for our F&B operators.
Second, alcohol consumption. The current restriction in F&B establishments on the sale and consumption of alcohol after 10.30pm will be lifted. Third, live performances will be allowed to resume at all venues, including F&B establishments. We will also allow the screening of live broadcast programmes at these establishments. Outdoor live performances and busking will be allowed to resume too.
Fourth, larger-scale social events and gatherings. Up to now, we have only allowed marriage solemnisation and wedding receptions because these are key life events. We have held back from other large-scale social gatherings and events like gala dinners, corporate D&D events, birthday celebrations or anniversaries.
We will now allow such social events and gatherings to resume. These events should still comply with SMM 1-5. That means you should not have more than 10 persons per table. Safe distancing of one metre should still apply. We will continue to encourage all participants to exercise prudence and self-restraint and limit your interactions to the same group that you are seated with.
Fifth, vocalisation activities. We had also previously taken a strong position against such group vocalisation activities like mass singing, because of the higher risk of transmission. Given that we are now in a different position, we will start easing this restriction. So long as masks are worn throughout such activities, we will allow for congregational singing, cheering by audiences or participants at events, as well as singing in general settings, including our schools. All of these five changes, which I have just outlined will take effect from next Tuesday onwards. The relevant agencies will provide more details on any further detailed requirements specific to their sectors.
There is one more area which we are looking into, and that is the safe resumption of nightlife businesses. That includes bars, pubs, karaoke establishments, as well as nightclubs. These are activities with higher risk of transmission and it is also generally more difficult to comply with the prevailing SMM 1-5 in these settings. So the agencies are still looking into resumption of activities in these areas, and they will provide an update on the reopening of the nightlife sector in the coming weeks.
Let me conclude, we are making a major move to ease up further, both at our borders and also within our community. But we are deliberately not going for a complete opening, as you have heard just now from the Prime Minister and several Ministers on this panel, because the pandemic is not over and there will be more surprises ahead of us. So I hope everyone understands the rationale for our opening up and take the changes in the right spirit. By all means, let us cherish these hard-earned relaxations, make full use of them to resume more normal lives and to reconnect with one another.
But please do not let our guard down and abandon all caution. Continue to uphold personal and social responsibility and be mentally prepared that the situation can worsen. There is always the risk down the road, that our healthcare system may come under tremendous pressure again, that we may see new variants that are more aggressive and dangerous. And if such a situation were to arise, we may have no choice but to tighten our restrictions again and we hope everyone understands this.
Whatever happens along the way, I want to assure all of you that the MTF will remain committed to our mission, to protect lives and livelihoods, to see through this pandemic, and to emerge stronger as one united people. Thank you.