Can you visit friends or head to other parks to exercise? What about your spa and salon appointments? Here’s what to expect in phase one of reopening.
When Singapore’s circuit breaker period ends on June 1, more businesses and activities will be progressively allowed.
On Tuesday, the Government said there will be three phases in the reopening.
Phase one, from June 2, will last for at least four weeks as some restrictions are eased.
Phase two will last several months as even more measures are lifted. This will lead to phase three, which will be the “new normal” until a vaccine or treatment is found for Covid-19.
The Straits Times answers some questions about what you can do from June 2, when the first phase begins. Government agencies say some details are being ironed out. You can also send your questions to email@example.com.
Q CAN I VISIT MY FRIEND OR BOYFRIEND?
A No. You are allowed to visit only your grandparents and parents if they are living elsewhere, or your parents-in-law and grandparents-in-law. They can receive only up to two visitors once a day. The visitors must also come from the same household.
Seniors should not leave their houses to visit family members as this will raise their risk of infection.
Siblings will also not be allowed to visit one another.
But there may be exceptions for seniors who do not have children, and appeals can be made to the Ministry of Health for siblings or nieces and nephews to visit them.
Q CAN I VISIT MY RELATIVE AT THE NURSING HOME?
A No, visits to residential care homes, including nursing homes, will continue to be suspended.
This is because frail seniors living in residential care homes are most vulnerable and there is a need to keep the risk of bringing infection into the homes low. This restriction may be reviewed in phase two.
The Agency for Integrated Care will continue supporting homes to use phone or video calls for seniors to keep in touch with loved ones.
Q CAN I GO FOR A STAYCATION WITH MY FAMILY AT A HOTEL?
A No. Hotel staycations remain disallowed in phase one.
Many hotels are also still supporting the accommodation needs of healthcare workers, students and foreign workers affected by travel restrictions, among others.
Q CAN I VISIT THE COLUMBARIUM OR THE CEMETERY?
A No. All government-managed columbaria, including Mandai Columbarium, will remain closed until further notice. Choa Chu Kang Cemetery will also remain closed.
Q IF I HAVE BEEN TELECOMMUTING FOR WORK, DO I HAVE TO RETURN TO THE OFFICE FROM JUNE 2?
A Companies must adopt telecommuting to the maximum extent. Employees who have been working from home so far should continue to do so.
They should go into the office only when the employer can demonstrate that it is necessary, such as to access specialised systems or equipment that cannot be accessed from home, or to complete a contract or transaction that is legally required to be completed in person and on site.
Q IF I HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO TELECOMMUTE FOR WORK DURING THE CIRCUIT BREAKER, CAN I RETURN TO MY WORKPLACE FROM JUNE 2?
A You can return to the workplace if your company is on the list of businesses permitted to resume operations from June 2, and if your employer has put safe management measures in place.
Your employer must also demonstrate the business or operational reasons why you are unable to work from home despite reviewing and redesigning work processes.
Ministry of Manpower (MOM) inspectors will assess the efforts put in by companies to implement work-from-home arrangements, based on whether it is practical for workers to work from home, given the nature of their jobs.
Q WHAT CAN I DO IF MY EMPLOYER HAS TOLD ME I NEED TO RETURN TO THE WORKPLACE, EVEN THOUGH I HAVE BEEN TELECOMMUTING FOR WORK DURING THE CIRCUIT BREAKER?
A Employees must telecommute where possible. They can report workplace safety and health issues to MOM via the SnapSafe mobile application.
Q WHICH BUSINESSES THAT WERE PREVIOUSLY SHUT CAN NOW REOPEN FROM JUNE 2, AND WHICH CANNOT?
A School bookshops and retail shops selling school uniforms can resume activities.
Selected services, including motor vehicle servicing, air-conditioner servicing, basic pet services and full hairdressing services, can also resume.
Businesses that still cannot resume include bars, pubs, nightclubs, theatres and cinemas. They are deemed higher-risk because they draw crowds in an enclosed space.
To manage the risks of transmission, most retail outlets will have to remain closed until further notice. Department stores will remain shut.
Q CAN I TRAVEL OVERSEAS FOR WORK?
A No. The current advisory on travel will still apply until further announcements are made.
Singaporeans should continue to defer all travel abroad.
This will reduce the risk of Singaporeans being infected with the virus when abroad and spreading it to other Singaporeans when they return.
Any Singapore resident or long-term pass holder who leaves Singapore from March 27 in disregard of the prevailing travel advisories will be charged unsubsidised rates for their inpatient stay at public hospitals if they are admitted as suspected Covid-19 patients and have onset of symptoms within 14 days of returning to Singapore.
But Singapore is currently exploring the possibility of piloting fast-track immigration arrangements with a few countries assessed to be at equivalent or lower risk of community transmission as Singapore, to which essential travel in limited numbers and with safeguards could be conducted.
Such moves will be assessed and implemented separately from the timing of the three broad phases of reopening, as they are dependent on the volatile global situation.
EXERCISE & LEISURE
Q CAN I TRAVEL TO A PARK OUTSIDE OF MY IMMEDIATE NEIGHBOURHOOD TO EXERCISE?
A No. If you need to exercise (walking, jogging or cycling), you should continue to do so in your immediate neighbourhood, such as at a park or park connector near you. Do it alone or with individuals who live with you in the same household.
All carparks in parks, gardens and nature reserves will remain closed.
While at the park, please comply with safe distancing measures and wear a face mask, except when doing strenuous exercises such as running, cycling, brisk walking or walking on hilly terrain.
The beaches at East Coast Park, Changi Beach Park, Pasir Ris Park, Punggol Point, Sembawang Park and West Coast Park will remain closed. In parks, fishing areas, fitness corners, football fields, food vending machines, among other things, will remain closed.
Q CAN I SWIM IN A PUBLIC POOL, PLAY BADMINTON, GO TO A PLAYGROUND OR BOOK A BARBECUE PIT IN MY HOUSING BOARD ESTATE?
A No. Such sports and outdoor recreational facilities in HDB estates will continue to remain closed to the public. They will likely be able to reopen only in phase two, at least four weeks away.
Similarly, tennis courts, pools and other recreational facilities in condominiums remain closed. So will private gyms.
Q CAN I WEAR A PLASTIC FACE SHIELD INSTEAD OF A FACE MASK WHEN I GO OUT?
A Yes, you can do so even now, during the circuit breaker period.
The Health Ministry said on its website that any mask, including reusable masks or plastic face shields, offer adequate basic protection for the general public who need to go out of their homes.
But plastic spit guards predominantly covering the mouth are not considered masks.
Q CAN MY DOMESTIC HELPER GO OUT AND MEET HER FRIENDS ON HER DAY OFF?
A No. Foreign domestic workers should continue to stay at home on their rest days after the circuit breaker period. Like the rest of the community, they should not meet their friends or gather in public spaces during phase one.
However, they can continue to go out to do essential errands and buy meals. But they must return home immediately after these errands are done.
If a maid needs to go out for a limited time on her rest day, she needs to arrange with her employer to do it only on a weekday, wear a mask, follow all safe distancing measures and activate the TraceTogether app to facilitate contact tracing.
Q CAN I TAKE DRIVING LESSONS?
A No. Driving lessons will not be allowed to resume.
Q CAN I HAVE A PICNIC AT THE PARK AND WILL THE BEACH AT EAST COAST PARK BE REOPENED?
A No. Gathering in groups in parks, as well as social or recreational activities such as having picnics, group exercising, photography, kite-flying and playing games such as frisbee and football will still not be permitted.
Q CAN I VISIT THE LIBRARY?
A No. All libraries will remain closed and their on-site services such as book drops and reservation lockers will continue to be unavailable. You will not be fined if you have not returned material that is due. You will have three weeks after libraries eventually reopen to do so.
Q CAN I GO TO THE MUSEUM?
A No. For phase one, all arts facilities and venues, including museums, art galleries and all indoor and outdoor performance venues such as concert halls or black boxes, will remain closed.
Q WILL I BE ABLE TO GET A FACIAL, THREAD MY EYEBROWS, OR GO FOR A MANICURE FROM JUNE 2?
A No, these services remain closed. Beauty salons may continue to sell products online and deliver them to customers.
However, the good news is that hair salons will be able to offer colouring and chemical treatments from June 2.
Q WILL FOOT REFLEXOLOGY SERVICES RESUME?
A No, foot reflexology services will not be allowed in phase one.
Q CAN I VISIT A VEHICLE SHOWROOM?
A No. Car showrooms will remain closed and you still cannot test-drive a car. But motor companies can continue to sell vehicles online and deliver them to customers.
Motor workshop services, however, will be allowed to reopen and resume services. Currently, they can tend to only emergency cases.
Q CAN MY FREELANCE CLEANER OR PART-TIME MAID COME TO MY HOUSE?
A No. Such home-based cleaning services are not allowed to resume.
Q CAN I VIEW A SHOWFLAT?
A No. Property viewings still cannot be conducted in person. But you can do so virtually.
As for property agents, while they still cannot meet clients face to face, they can do so where the clients’ physical presence is legally required to complete a transaction. The meeting must take place in the office of the real estate company.
Q CAN I START RENOVATION WORKS ON MY NEW HOME?
A All construction work, including home renovation, will need approval from the Building and Construction Authority before they can restart. Priority will be given to projects that had started before the circuit breaker and were suspended.
New renovation works will depend on factors such as whether the renovation contractor has sent its workers to be tested for Covid-19. More details will be announced later.
Q CAN STUDENTS WEAR A FACE SHIELD INSTEAD OF A FACE MASK WHEN THEY GO BACK TO SCHOOL?
A Yes, they can choose between a face shield and a face mask.
Q WILL SCHOOLS TRY TO HAVE LESSONS IN AIR-CONDITIONED ROOMS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, AS IT MAY BE DIFFICULT FOR STUDENTS TO HAVE LESSONS IN STUFFY CLASSROOMS WHILE WEARING MASKS?
A As part of safe management measures, schools will use well-ventilated venues for lessons. Students who have underlying conditions that may be aggravated through the prolonged use of masks, or who may feel uncomfortable wearing a mask, can consider using a face shield instead.
Q ARE STUDENTS ALLOWED TO HAVE MEALS TOGETHER IN SCHOOL CANTEENS? DINE-IN SERVICES ARE NOT ALLOWED AT MOST OTHER CANTEENS, LIKE COMMERCIAL CANTEENS.
A Yes, provided they observe safe distancing measures in the canteen, like sitting at spaced intervals.
Q HOW WILL SCHOOLS STAGGER ARRIVAL AND DISMISSAL TIMES?
A To reduce congestion, schools will stagger arrival and dismissal times in various ways, such as according to the academic level of the students or mode of transport (for instance, letting students who take the school bus leave first).
Schools will continue to take care of students’ well-being even as they optimise the staggering. Please look out for the specific instructions of your child’s school, which will plan the various moves based on the profile of the students and traffic situation.
Q CAN PRIVATE HOME TUITION RESUME?
A No. Just as tuition and enrichment centres remain closed, face-to-face lessons by private tutors will remain suspended in phase one. Tutors and students can continue with online classes.
FOOD AND DRINKS
Q CAN I BUY BUBBLE TEA FROM A RETAIL SHOP?
A No. Outlets selling predominantly beverages, such as alcohol and bubble tea, are still not allowed to reopen. Food and beverage outlets, food caterers and canteens are permitted to open, but can provide only takeaway and delivery options.
Q ARE MONEY CHANGERS ALLOWED TO REOPEN?
A It depends. Applications to resume business will be approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore on a case-by-case basis.
This depends on whether a money changer is able to restrict the number of staff on site to ensure safe distancing, and whether it can implement safe management measures at its outlets.
Q CAN MAID AGENCIES REOPEN?
A No. Maid agencies are not allowed to reopen their physical outlets. They can continue to operate online.
Q WILL SHOPS SELLING HEALTH PRODUCTS SUCH AS VITAMINS AND SUPPLEMENTS BE ALLOWED TO REOPEN?
A No. To manage the risks of transmission, most retail outlets, including those selling health supplements, will have to stay closed until further notice. They may continue to sell their products online and fulfil the orders through delivery.
Q WILL COMMERCIAL VISA APPLICATION CENTRES REOPEN?
A No. They cannot reopen their physical outlets but can continue to operate remotely.
Q CAN I MEET MY INSURANCE AGENT?
A No. Insurance agents still cannot have face-to-face meetings with clients, except where the physical presence of the client is legally required to complete transactions. These meetings must take place in the office of the insurer.
Q WILL MORE BANK BRANCHES REOPEN?
A Standard Chartered plans to reopen eight branches that have been closed temporarily during the circuit breaker period.
DBS Bank and United Overseas Bank may gradually reopen additional branches over the course of phase one, in line with the gradual resumption of business activity.
OCBC Bank’s 22 temporarily closed branches will remain closed for now. Maybank also plans not to reopen its eight temporarily closed branches in phase one.
DBS, UOB and OCBC said that customers are encouraged to use digital banking services to safeguard their health. Currently, they have kept 28, 38 and 24 branches open, respectively. Standard Chartered and Maybank have kept eight and nine branches open, respectively.
Q CAN I SEND MY PET TO BE GROOMED?
A Yes, basic grooming, animal physiotherapy and rehabilitation services for pets can restart on June 2.
But there will be restrictions. Grooming, for instance, includes the maintenance of skin and fur, teeth brushing, emptying of anal glands and medicated baths. It excludes cosmetic styling of pets’ fur and spa baths.
If you are taking your pet for physiotherapy or rehabilitation, you will need a referral from a vet.
All services must be by appointment. Non-essential services such as pet-sitting, daycare for animals, walking, boarding and the sale of pets will remain prohibited.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2020, with the headline ‘What you can and cannot do from June 2’.