link youtube: https://www.youtube.com/embed/pXu1h9Vc544?feature=oembed
Added Mr Ong: “Therefore, now is really not the time to risk it all. So we need to bite this bullet, dial back on social activities, and use this time to push through the vaccination efforts.”
Mr Gan, who also co-chairs the task force, said that given the rate at which new clusters are growing, tougher measures are necessary to slow the spread of the virus, to give time to raise vaccination coverage, especially among the elderly.
“We know that this news is extremely disappointing and frustrating to many, in particular businesses in sectors such as F&B,” he said. “These sectors have been very badly hit, given the earlier restrictions, and have been working very hard to adapt to the changing regulations.”
He added: “We know that the last 18 months have been challenging, and we will provide additional support for the affected businesses as we make this shift.”
On how the latest tightening fits into plans to live with an endemic Covid-19, Mr Gan said the authorities’ direction has not changed.
“However, when we outlined our plans to live with Covid-19, we also emphasised that we needed to significantly raise our vaccination, and meanwhile we still need to keep infection under control to protect the unvaccinated, especially the elderly. Over the next few weeks, we will make a much bigger push to get our elderly population vaccinated,” he said.
Working from home will continue to be the default at workplaces, MOH said in a statement.
Safety measures calibrated according to vaccination status will be reintroduced “at an appropriate time” as Singapore’s vaccination coverage continues to increase, the ministry added.
Strenuous indoor exercise classes, or strenuous individual and group indoor sports and exercise activities, will also cease during this period.
(From left) Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong and Health Minister Ong Ye Kung during a press conference by the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 on July 20. PHOTO: MCI
Personalised services that require masks to be removed, such as facials, saunas and make-up services, will not be allowed. The same goes for singing, and the playing of instruments that require intentional expulsion of air.
Maximum event sizes will also be scaled down. For instance, up to 100 people will be allowed for marriage solemnisations, provided there is pre-event testing for all attendees. This is down from the current 250 people limit.
The task force had to rethink its posture with the significant shift in the public health situation, said Mr Ong. Key considerations include protecting hospital capacity from being overwhelmed.
The authorities also had to consider the level of community exposure, with the latest wave at wet markets and food centres affecting a wider spectrum of people, as well as some 200,000 people above the age of 60 who remain unvaccinated and therefore have a high likelihood of falling critically ill once infected, he said.
Mr Gan added: “I know today’s announcement feels like a huge setback to many who have been observing the rules, and doing whatever it takes to keep themselves and the larger population safe.
“We deeply appreciate your efforts. Once we have slowed down the new clusters and hit higher vaccination rates, we would be able to continue with our reopening journey.”
Read next: What you need to know about Singapore’s Covid-19 rules from July 22