Masks optional in S'pore from Aug. 29, except on public transport & in select healthcare settings


Lee Wei Lin | August 24, 2022, 10:58 AM

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During the Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) press conference on Aug. 24, the MTF co-chairs shared an update on Singapore's Covid-19 situation and updates to Safe Management Measures (SMMs).

Infection numbers have been on a steady decline across all age groups since late July.

As of Aug. 23, 2022, the average daily infections over a seven-day period is 2,700, compared to the peak of 10,200 in mid-July.

The number of daily hospitalised cases has halved to below 400, and the number of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) cases is below 10.

Mask-wearing to be optional

As Singapore's population is now more Covid-resilient due to the high vaccination and boosting rates, along with recovery from infections, the MTF co-chairs announced that mask-wearing will now be optional indoors from Aug. 29, 2022, except for settings where essential services are carried out in enclosed and crowded areas and which are frequently used by vulnerable persons.

This move comes five months after outdoor mask-wearing became optional.

Mask-wearing will continue to be mandatory in the following healthcare settings:

  • Indoor premises of hospitals and polyclinics, including retail, food and beverage (F&B) outlets, common areas and other facilities within the respective buildings
  • Private primary care and dental facilities
  • Specialist clinics
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinics
  • Renal dialysis centres
  • Clinical and radiological laboratories
  • Day hospices
  • Residential care homes
  • Covid-19 care facilities, testing centres and vaccination centres
  • Emergency ambulances and medical transport vehicles

Masks will also be required on public transport, including on the MRT/LRT, public buses, and indoor transport facilities such as the boarding areas within bus interchanges and MRT platforms.

They will not be required in naturally ventilated bus interchanges and retail areas located in the premises of bus interchanges and MRT/LRT stations.

The wearing of masks will be optional on private transport, including school buses, private buses, taxis, and private-hire vehicles.

However, passengers should check with private operators for additional service requirements.

Mask-wearing on commercial flights and ferries to and from Singapore will only be required if the origin or destination requires mask-wearing onboard.

Food handlers will continue to have to wear masks as part of sectoral regulations, such as the Singapore Food Agency's (SFA) requirement that they maintain good hygiene standards.

According to SFA's website:

A food handler is any person who handles and prepares food and beverages in SFA-licensed food retail establishments. Chefs, sous chefs, cooks, kitchen assistants, and food stall assistants are considered food handlers as they are primarily involved in food preparation.

Public encouraged to continue to exercise responsibility

Despite the relaxation of SMMs, the MTF co-chairs called for the public to exercise responsibility and caution, such as wearing masks when in crowded places or when interacting with vulnerable persons.

Experts have advised that the elderly and immuno-compromised should continue to wear masks in crowded indoor settings to reduce the risk of catching respiratory infections.

Those who are unwell should stay home or see a doctor, and close contacts of Covid-19 cases should follow Protocol 3, which is take an Antigen Rapid Test (ART) self-test and ensure that they test negative before going out over the next five days.

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Top photo from Singapore Botanic Gardens' Facebook