[UPDATED on Saturday, May 15 at 10:55pm: Adding clarifications by health minister Ong Ye Kung on the new measures.]
On Friday (May 14), the Multi-ministry Taskforce (MTF) on Covid-19 announced further restrictions on social gatherings in Singapore, one of which is limiting the permissible group size of social gatherings to two people, during a press conference.
In a clarification on Friday night, MTF stated that they are prepared to be flexible in their implementation of the general rule on certain occasions where members of the same household may need to move around in groups larger than two people.
Flexibility in certain genuine situations
During the May 14 press conference, the MTF announced that from Sunday, May 16 through Sunday, Jun. 13, permissible group sizes will be reduced from five people to two people for social gatherings.
There will also be a cap of two distinct visitors per household per day, down from five distinct visitors.
Individuals should continue to limit their overall number of social gatherings to no more than two per day, whether to another household or meeting with family and friends in a public place.
This two-person cap for social gatherings is "meant to minimise face-to-face interactions and reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission across different households and within the community", the MTF said.
The MTF clarified that they recognise that there may be situations where members of the same household may need to move around in groups larger than two people, especially those with young children or elderly parents who have higher caretaking needs.
These situations could include taking public transport, going for medical appointments, attending classes, or going to work in the same vehicle.
"We are prepared to be flexible in our implementation of the general rule for such bonafide cases," the MTF said.
Grandparents who take care of grandchildren not counted
To allow families' current childcare arrangements to continue, grandchildren who are being cared for by their grandparents on a daily basis will not be counted towards the cap of two distinct visitors per household, or to the number of social gatherings per day.
Grandparents are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated against Covid-19, in order 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.
Strict enforcement of safe management measures
Members of the public from different households are reminded that they should keep to groups of two people and maintain proper safe distancing when making use of public amenities such as playgrounds, fitness corners, and basketball courts.
Strict enforcement measures will be taken against any breaches of the safe management measures.
The MTF also added that they do not rule out having to close such amenities if there are persistent breaches of the measures.
"We strongly urge households to observe the prevailing group size limits in public settings and venues as far as possible.
The additional precautionary measures are necessary to protect Singaporeans and keep our loved ones safe. We need everyone to play their part and exercise social responsibility."
Further clarifications by health minister Ong Ye Kung
In a Facebook post on Saturday (May 15), Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung further clarified the new measures, saying that he received a number of queries regarding the new measures.
"Yes, we could have been clearer," he said.
He confirmed that family members who live together may go out as one group to do essential activities, such as going to school or to medical appointments, or to take care of elderly relatives like grandparents.
For grocery shopping, though, Ong said that families should try to keep it to two, in order to minimise their exposure to the virus.
Responding to a question about whether a family of four — consisting of parents and two children — would be allowed to travel together in the same car, Ong confirmed that the family can indeed travel in the same car or take public transportation together.
For families where the children are taken care of by their grandparents, they can continue to do so, Ong reiterated.
He noted that grandparents who come over to a family's home to take care of the children are limited by the cap of two visitors per household per day.
However, sending the children over to their grandparents' home will not count toward the two visitors cap.
Ong also clarified that this rule does not apply to members of the same household.
"Enforcement officers will exercise judgement and flexibility. But we will not hesitate to take firm actions against the egregious offenders, such as refusing to wear a mask in public and challenging our Safe Distancing Ambassadors, who perform an important public service."
You can read his full Facebook post here:
Top photo via Families for Life.