Singapore | Agencies: Amid the continuous spike in coronavirus cases across the country, Singapore on Friday tightened its COVID-19 norms as it reduced the current size of group gatherings from five people to two people.

Making the announcement, the country's Education Minister Lawrence Wong said that the new restrictions, which have been labelled as "Phase 2 (Heightened Alert)", will begin from Sunday and will continue till June 13.

The move came after reports emerged of more and more COVID-19 cases linked to Changi Airport, schools and hospitals, the Channel News Asia reported.

There are currently 46 cases in the Changi Airport cluster, making it the largest of Singapore's 11 active clusters.

Speaking at a multi-ministry task force press conference, Wong said: “This will apply across the board, so if you want to go out for anything, grocery shopping, exercise, maximum of two persons henceforth.

“We strongly encourage everyone to stay home as much as possible, go out only for essential reasons," Wong said.

Responding to questions about whether Singapore could enter another “circuit breaker” period after the midpoint review, Wong said: “If indeed the situation does not improve, we certainly will not rule out even more stringent measures thereafter."

“Individuals should continue to limit their overall number of social gatherings to not more than two per day, whether to another household, or meeting with friends and family members in a public place,” said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a separate press release.

Grandchildren being cared for by their grandparents daily would not count towards the cap of two distinct visitors or the number of social gatherings per day, said MOH in the press release.

“However, grandparents are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated against COVID-19, to protect both themselves and their grandchildren from COVID-19 infection. To reduce the risk of transmission, grandparents should also minimise intermingling between grandchildren from different households,” it said.

Other activities that will not be allowed during this period include strenuous indoor exercise classes, or strenuous individual and group indoor sports and exercise activities, said MOH in the press release.

Personalised services that need masks to be removed like facials and saunas, singing and playing instruments that need “require intentional expulsion of air” like wind or brass instruments, will also not be allowed.

However, medical and dental services can continue, said the press release.

Event sizes and event size caps will be further scaled down, said Wong.

Currently, events can have 100 attendees without pre-event testing and 250 with pre-event testing. This will be scaled down to 50 and 100 attendees respectively, he added.

This will apply to congregational and other worship services and MICE activities, said Wong.

Singapore's health ministry on Thursday reported 24 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, the highest daily number since mid-September.

The country has so far reported more than 61,000 coronavirus cases and 31 deaths.

(With PTI inputs)

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma