In a major relief for people in Singapore, the country’s Ministry of Health announced that wearing masks will no longer be necessary except in healthcare facilities and public transport starting 29 August.
The decision was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong at a press conference held by the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force on 24 August.
Here are all the details about Singapore easing mask restrictions
Where wearing of masks continues
According to the decision, people will have to wear masks when they are at healthcare facilities such as hospitals, polyclinics, residential care homes and even ambulances. Masks must also be worn when in retail, eateries and common areas of the healthcare facilities.
Masks will remain in force on public transport systems, including buses, MRT and LRT. People will have to wear masks when they are in boarding areas at bus interchanges and MRT platforms.
However, masks are not required at retail pharmacies within a mall. There is no need to wear masks at airports, retail areas of MRT, LRT and bus interchanges, as well as naturally ventilated areas in the interchanges.
Flights and ferries to and from destinations that don’t require onboard mask-wearing are also excluded. But masks are needed on all flights and ferries to and from destinations where wearing them is compulsory.
As for private transport, the government says that people have the option of wearing masks in private taxis and private buses.
Wong, who is the co-chair of the task force, said that taxi drivers can request a passenger to wear masks “but there is no law to require.”
“This is not enforceable, there is no basis of law for the taxi driver to say you have to. It’s optional,” he said.
Calling the decision a “significant milestone,” Wong said that Singapore must still “be mentally prepared for any sudden change because we don’t know how this virus will mutate and what the next variant will look like.”
Quarantine dropped for non-fully vaccinated visitors
Apart from easing mask-wearing restrictions, Singapore will also start allowing non-fully vaccinated travellers to skip the seven-day quarantine starting 29 August.
Such travellers will, however, have to test negative for COVID-19 two days before they arrive in the city-state.
Fully vaccinated travellers are neither required to take COVID-19 tests nor undergo quarantine.
The Ministry of Health also said that both long-term and short-term non-vaccinated arrivals above 13 years of age won’t be required to apply for entry approval starting 29 August.
(Main and Featured images: Victor He/@victorhwn725/Unsplash)