[Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated that Indranee Rajah will be second minister for national development from May 15. The article has been amended to state that this is a current appointment.]
Couples with weddings scheduled in the next few weeks might be feeling unnerved by the new restrictions set to kick in from this weekend (May 8).
Announced on May 4 in a Ministry of Health (MOH) press release, the new rules left the maximum capacity of both wedding solemnisations and receptions unchanged at 250 attendees.
However, from May 8, pre-event testing is required for weddings involving more than 50 attendees.
- For solemnisation-only events with more than 50 attendees, pre-event testing will be required for the wedding couple.
- For wedding receptions (involving food and drinks) with more than 50 attendees, all attendees, including the wedding couple, are required to undergo pre-event testing.
The threshold had previously been set at 100 attendees.
Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office who oversees the National Population and Talent Division, posted an explanation of the new rules on Facebook on May 6.
Indranee is currently also the second minister for the finance and national development ministries.
Higher risk of virus transmission at weddings
In her post, Indranee explained that weddings had a "higher risk of virus transmission due to their social and interactive nature".
However, she said that there was a need for balance between not wanting to stop weddings on one hand, and needing to reduce transmission risks on the other.
"We didn’t want to stop weddings altogether," she wrote.
You can see the full post here:
Effect of new rules
As pointed out, weddings with up to 250 attendees can still proceed under the new rules.
And, for weddings with 50 or less attendees, pre-event testing would not be required, Indranee said, adding that for larger events, fully-vaccinated guests do not need pre-event testing.
However, couples who had planned for a wedding reception involving 51 to 100 attendees would have to make a decision on how to continue with it.
Such couples have to either scale down their wedding reception to 50 attendees, or require their guests to go for pre-event testing.
Regardless of the number of attendees at their weddings, couples will likely need to adjust seating and other arrangements, in light of the fact that social gatherings will be limited to groups of five from May 8.
Pre-event testing: cost and other considerations
According to a list published on MOH's website, most approved testing providers charge around S$40 to S$60 per attendee, for an Antigen Rapid Test.
Some providers have their prices stated as low as S$19.26, but the list also has a disclaimer that prices are "subject to change".
These costs are not covered by the government, according to MOH's webpage on pre-event testing.
Couples who opt for pre-event testing can direct their attendees to be tested at MOH-approved providers, such as clinics.
Alternatively, they can arrange for testing to be done at their wedding venue by contacting a test provider to assess if the venue is suitable.
They should also bear in mind that negative test results are only valid for 24 hours, starting from the time of registration in-person at the testing premise.
This means that there is a limited timeframe in which attendees must be tested.
When will the restrictions be relaxed?
The latest restrictions on weddings are part of a set of new measures introduced in response to increasing community cases.
The measures, announced on May 4, are to take effect from May 8 through May 30.
Although an end date of May 30 was stipulated, this does not rule out further changes to the measures from May 31 onwards.
Previous restrictions on weddings
Prior to Apr. 24, wedding receptions and solemnisations could involve up to 100 people.
The 100-person limit, announced on Sep. 23, 2020, took effect from Oct. 3, 2020.
Then, the government also encouraged couples who were ready to proceed with their wedding plans "to do so without delay".
During Phase 2 of Singapore's post-circuit breaker reopening, restrictions were relaxed and weddings could involve up to 50 attendees, from Aug. 4, 2020.
From Aug. 4, 2020, each couple was also allowed to hold one wedding reception.
Before this, the limit was 20 attendees.
Timeline of maximum attendees at weddings
Here's a timeline of post-circuit breaker restrictions on weddings:
From Jun. 2: 10 attendees.
From Jun. 19, 2020: 20 attendees.
From Aug. 4, 2020: 50 attendees, each couple allowed to hold one wedding reception.
From Oct. 3, 2020: 100 attendees, wedding reception allowed. Attendees must be in zones of 50.
From Apr. 24, 2021: 250 attendees with pre-event testing. Couple to be tested for solemnisation-only events, all attendees to be tested for wedding receptions. 100 attendees without pre-event testing.
From May 8, 2021: 250 attendees with pre-event testing. Couple to be tested for solemnisation-only events, all attendees to be tested for wedding receptions. 50 attendees without pre-event testing.
Top photo via Lawrence Wong on Facebook and via Unsplash