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Singapore will increase group size and allow dining in food outlets to resume, after aggressive virus restrictions over the last month stemmed an outbreak in infections.
From June 14 to five, the group sizes will be increased from two persons while the operation capacities of attractions, events and cruises will be raised to 50% from 25% on Thursday, the ministry of health said in a statement. From 21 June, dining in restaurants can resume as well as in-person performances, live tuition and gym classes. However, according to the statement, working from home remains the default arrangement for companies.
Further relaxations such as for group and event sizes, capacity limits, distancing requirements, mask-wearing and travel will be introduced when a sufficient proportion of the population has been fully vaccinated, especially those who are vaccinated.
The country's daily virus count has dropped to the single-digit range after locking down-like restrictions such as reduced group sizes and the ban on eating in early May imposed after an outbreak from Changi Airport resulted into the largest active cluster in China. Singapore's hard-won success in bringing the latest outbreak under control comes as the city-state intensifies vaccinations.
At 9 June, approximately 44% of the population have been vaccinated and about a third have taken their first dose, according to the statement. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong pledged to reopen the economy as testing and inoculation become widespread, signalling a shift away from the strict containment approach which could be detrimental to the trade-dependent nation.
Officials at a briefing on Thursday said that they expect half of Singapore's population to be vaccinated in August. Citizens aged 12 to 39 years old will be invited from June 11 to register for vaccinations, with this extended over the coming months to the rest of the population.
As further activities resume, the government will also require all staff who work in settings with unmasked clients to be tested daily, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated. These include staff from dine-in food outlets and fitness studios.
The authorities have also issued interim approval for self-test kits, which produce results within 10 minutes, to be sold from 16 June in retail pharmacies. Initial sales will be limited to 10 kits per person.
This wave of infection is not like a huge forest fire where the entire thing is burning. Ong Ye Kung says we see fires, health minister Ong sees during the briefing. 'Even the trucks went in and dropped huge water bombs; we didn't resort to flying overhead and dropping water bombs, but they flew in with our water tanks and hose. We managed to put it out today.
As Singapore looks to restart activities once again, Lee is expected to meet his Australian counterpart, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, today. Morrison will be the first official leader to make an official visit to the city since Covid 19 broke out, and this takes place against a backdrop of interest within both countries to establish air travel bubbles with each other.
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