FAQ: Your guide to Phase 1 reopening of Singapore after COVID-19 circuit breaker

People exercising outside Marina Bay Sands in Singapore (PHOTO: Maverick Asio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Singapore will exit its two-month COVID-19 circuit breaker after 1 June (Monday), and reopen gradually in three phases.

Phase 1 (Safe Reopening) will see some resumption of businesses and services, as well as the easing of some safe distancing restrictions. As a handy guide to this initial reopening phase, here is a list of frequently-asked questions answered:

General

Question: Do I have to wear a face mask when I’m outside?

Answer: Yes, you must continue to wear a face mask whenever you are outside of your residence. There are some specific instances when you can take off your mask, such as when you are driving inside a vehicle, and when you are engaged in strenuous exercise outdoors (jogging, cycling, brisk walking).

When you are taking public transport, you should also refrain from talking to one another or on your mobile phones, and to maintain good personal hygiene.

Q: Can I wear a face shield instead of a face mask?

A: According to Ministry of Health guidelines, face masks should still be used in most situations.

Face shields can be used only in situations where it is impractical to use a face mask and where safe distancing can be maintained, such as teachers speaking for long periods in front of a class.

Q: Do students have to go back to school after 1 June?

A: Yes, pre-schools, schools and institutes of higher learning (IHLs) will reopen in stages starting from 2 June. School bookshops and retail shops selling school uniforms can also resume activities.

Pre-schools will reopen in three stages: Kindergarten 1 and Kindergarten 2 children may return from 2 June; Nursery 1 and Nursery 2 children may return from 8 June; and Infant Care and Playgroup children may return from 10 June.

Students from graduating cohorts in the primary and secondary levels (Primary 6, Secondary 4 and 5) will attend school daily, while other cohorts will rotate weekly, alternating between home-based learning and returning to school for lessons. Junior colleges and Millennia Institute will arrange to have half of their students back in school at any one time.

Attendance is compulsory for school students upon reopening. They can choose between a face shield and a face mask to wear during school time.

Students in IHLs will be able to return to campus for practical and lab-based sessions, with lectures remaining online.

Q: Can I go back to my office to work?

A: It depends. If your work can be done via telecommuting (i.e. working from home), then you should continue to do so. You should go back to the office only when it is absolutely necessary, such as to access specialised systems or equipment that cannot be carried out from home, or to complete legal transactions.

For employers, businesses that operate in settings with lower transmission risks – such as manufacturing companies – can resume full production. However, safe management measures must be implemented and enforced at the workplaces, and they will be subject to checks.

Social interaction

Q: Can I visit my parents or grandparents who are living elsewhere? Can I visit my friends?

A maximum of two persons from your household are allowed to visit your parents/grandparents, and such visits are limited to only one per day. You are also allowed to drop off your children at your parents’ or grandparents’ homes for childcare.

Visiting friends or significant others living in different households is still not allowed in Phase 1.

Q: Can I attend mass religious services at my place of worship?

A: No, mass religious services are still not allowed at all places of worship. However, private worships are permitted in certain places of worship such as mosques, with up to five persons from the same household praying at any one time.

Religious rites and ceremonies performed by religious workers are not allowed, except for marriage solemnisations and funeral-related activities.

Q: Can I exercise outdoors with my family?

A: Yes, but Sport Singapore does not encourage exercising outdoors in groups. If you must, you can only exercise with members from your household, and you should exercise only in your own neighbourhood. Do note that public and private sports facilities such as stadiums and fitness studios are still closed in Phase 1.

People walking past a closed retail store in a shopping mall in Singapore. (PHOTO: Ore Huiying/Getty Images)

Retail

Q: Can I eat out at a F&B (food and beverages) outlet?

A: No, dining in at F&B outlets will continue to be disallowed, and only food delivery and take-away services are permitted.

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. Some outlets selling bubble tea and desserts do have delivery services.

Q: Can I buy health supplements at retail outlets to boost my immune system against COVID-19? Can I go out and shop for new clothes?

A: No, most retail outlets – including those selling health supplements – will remain closed until further notice. They may continue to sell their products online and deliver the orders. Department stores will also remain shut in Phase 1.

Services

Q: Can I dye my hair at my hairdressing salon?

A: Yes, hair salons will be able to offer colouring and chemical treatments from 2 June, in addition to haircuts. However, beauty treatments such as facials, manicures and eyebrow-threading are still not allowed.

Q: Can I go for foot or body massage? Can I watch a film at a cinema? Can I meet my friends for drinks at our regular pub?

A: No to all three questions. Services and activities that involve significant prolonged close contact (e.g. spas and massages) or significant crowd management risk in an enclosed space (e.g. cinemas, theatres, bars, pubs and nightclubs) are not allowed to open in Phase 1.

Q: Can I resume therapy for my chronic illness? Can I do needle acupuncture by my TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) physician?

A: Yes, many healthcare services will resume on 2 June. These include specialist outpatient services, medical procedures, allied health services, community-based services, chronic disease management, preventive health services (e.g. flu vaccinations) and TCM needle acupuncture.

Q: Can I send my car or motorcycle for repair work?

A: Yes, motor workshops will be allowed to reopen and resume services. Bicycle repair shops will also be opened, as will repair services for equipment and electrical appliances such as air-cons.

Q: Can I send my kids to tuition and enrichment centres for classes? Can my kid’s private tutor come to my home for one-on-one lessons?

A: No, tuition and enrichment centres remain closed for Phase 1, and face-to-face lessons by private tutors will also remain suspended. Tutors and students can continue with online classes.

Q: Can I bring my pet for grooming services?

A: Yes, basic grooming, animal physiotherapy and rehabilitation services for pets can restart on 2 June. However, you must make an appointment for the service.

Also, cosmetic styling of pets' fur and spa baths are still not allowed. Other non-essential pet services such as pet-sitting, daycare for animals, walking, boarding and the sale of pets will remain closed too.

Q: Can I visit showflats or vehicle showrooms?

A: No, showflats and car showrooms will continue to be closed, although buyers can view them online.

For properties, agents can only meet clients face to face if it is legally required to complete transactions. However, they must do so only in the offices of the real estate companies.

For vehicles, motor companies can deliver them to customers following online purchases. Bidding for certificates of entitlement (COEs) will be suspended until motor dealerships and showrooms are allowed to reopen.

Q: Can I visit the library?

A No. All libraries will remain closed, and on-site services such as book drops and reservation lockers will continue to be unavailable. However, you will not be fined if you have not returned library material that is due. When libraries eventually reopen, you will have three weeks to return your material.

Library patrons can access certain ebooks and eNewspapers for free by signing in with their myLibrary ID.

Q: Can I restart my house renovation work?

A: Yes, previously-suspended residential renovation works will also be allowed to resume from 2 June.

Please note that all works will require approval from the Building and Construction Authority before they can restart. Migrant workers in the construction industry must be tested before they are allowed to return to work, and construction projects must put in place adequate safe management measures.

Q: Can I visit government service centres?

A: Yes, government service centres dealing with issues such as housing, employment passes and taxes are set to reopen on 2 June. However, they will resume services only by appointment.

Check-in counters at Changi Airport in Singapore. (PHOTO: Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)

Travel

Q: Can I leave Singapore for overseas trips after the circuit breaker period?

A: While there is no ban on overseas travel, the Ministry of Health has advised Singaporeans to defer all overseas travel until further notice. Any Singapore resident or long-term pass holder who disregards this advisory and travels overseas must serve a 14-day Stay-Home Notice when they return to Singapore.

Furthermore, if they are admitted for suspected COVID-19 and have onset of symptoms within 14 days of returning to Singapore, they will be charged at unsubsidised rates for their inpatient stay at public hospitals. Singapore residents will also not be able to claim from MediShield Life or Integrated Shield Plans for these treatments at public and private hospitals.

Should you go overseas, please note that countries will have different travel restrictions for travellers from different countries. They may either deny entry, allow entry but subject to quarantine/self isolation, or allow entry upon clearing medical screenings. Travellers should check on the latest advisories of the countries.

All short-term visitors (from anywhere in the world) will not be allowed to enter Singapore. From 2 June, travellers will gradually be allowed to transit through Changi Airport. Airlines will have to submit proposals for transfer lanes in the airport.

As the global situation remains volatile, reopening Singapore’s borders will be assessed and implemented separately from the timing of the three post-circuit breaker phases.

Q: Can I change currency at the money changer shops?

A: Yes, but not all shops will be open. Applications to resume money-changing business have to be approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore on a case-by-case basis, based on whether the outlet can restrict the number of on-site staff and implement safe management measures.

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