COVID-19 Rules and Restrictions in Singapore (Oct 2021)

woman wearing mask

COVID-19 regulations may be changing at a feverish pace, but we’re here to soothe your nerves.

This article will serve as a comprehensive one-stop resource for the current state of COVID-19 laws in Singapore. It is accurate as 21 October 2021 and reflects the key changes as of 27 September 2021 – Stabilisation Phase – which are expected to last until 21 November 2021. 

It also covers the changes to the overseas travel rules that took place on 12 October 2021 at 2359 hours, and the new countries that Singapore has a Vaccinated Travel Lane with. You can count on us to update this article whenever the laws change.

This article will cover Singapore’s laws and regulations regarding:

Social Gatherings 

You may take part in social gatherings but must obey the following rules:

  • Social gatherings of up to 2 people are allowed in public areas, while households may accept up to 2 visitors a day*
  • A cap of 1 distinct gathering a day applies for both public gatherings and household visits*
  • You also must remember to keep a distance of 1 metre from others while in public

*Grandchildren being cared for by grandparents are not included in the number of household visitors or social gatherings per day. However, grandparents should also minimise intermingling between grandchildren from different households.

First-time offenders who fail to comply with the above rules will be fined S$300 while repeat offenders will face higher fines.

Mask-Wearing

It is mandatory for all over the age of 6 to wear a mask over their nose and also cover their chin when not in their place of residence.

You may remove your mask only when:

  • You are eating or drinking while dining in
  • You are engaging in strenuous exercise such as running or jogging, static exercises and drills including taichi and qigong, brisk walking, or walking up hilly terrain. You must put your mask back on immediately once you have finished exercising
  • You are smoking, but must put your mask back on immediately after smoking
  • You are riding a motorcycle

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has recommended that people wear face masks of at least 2-3 layers of fabric and at least 95% bacterial filtration efficiency. Face masks are coverings that cover the wearer’s nose and mouth, and can be medical or non-medical.

Examples of masks include cloth masks and surgical masks, but do not include the following:

  • Neck gaiters
  • Bandannas
  • Scarves
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Face shields

Only the following people may use a face shield in place of a mask:

  • Children below 12 years of age who may have difficulty wearing and keeping face masks on for a prolonged period of time
  • People with health conditions that may result in medical difficulties when a mask is worn for a prolonged period of time
  • Brides and grooms during the solemnisation of their marriage

Teachers are not allowed to wear a face shield in place of a mask.

First-time offenders who fail to comply with the above rules will be fined S$300 while repeat offenders will face higher fines.

Vaccination

Vaccination is offered free to all Singaporeans and long-term residents in Singapore.

A person is considered fully vaccinated when he or she has had time to develop sufficient protection, i.e. 2 weeks after the second dose of any one of the following COVID-19 vaccines:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty
  • Moderna  
  • World Health Organisation’s Emergency Use Listing (WHO EUL) vaccines such as Sinovac-CoronaVac, Sinopharm, and AstraZeneca

A person who has been fully vaccinated will be considered as having a “cleared status”. Apart from being fully vaccinated, however, a person can also gain a cleared status if they have:

  • Recovered fully from COVID-19, or has 
  • Had a negative Pre-Event Testing (PET) result taken in the past 24 hours before the expected end of the event.

Please see our section below on PET for more information.

Booster vaccinations (i.e. a third dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty or Moderna vaccines) are also available to fully vaccinated persons who are:

  • Aged 30 and above, and who have completed their second dose at least 6 months ago
  • Healthcare and frontline workers
  • People and staff in institutionalised settings, such as prisons and residential care facilities
  • Aged care facility residents
  • Immunocompromised and at least 2 months have passed after their second dose

Dining 

You may dine-in in a group of up to 2 people if the group*:

  • Is fully vaccinated; 
  • Has a valid negative PET result in the past 24 hours; or
  • Comprises unvaccinated children aged 12 years and below as long as the children are from the same household

From 13 October 2021, only fully vaccinated people and children under 12 years old will be allowed to dine-in at hawker centres and coffee shops.

You may remove your mask to eat or drink in places other than F&B establishments, such as parks and void decks. However, you must put your mask on immediately after you have finished eating or drinking.

Work

Work-from-home will be the default arrangement for employees who are able to work from home.

Social gatherings and interactions are not allowed at the workplace.

If employees need to return to the workplace, their start times should be staggered and flexible working hours should be implemented. There should also be no cross-deployment of workers to multiple worksites if possible.

Employees who need to return to the workplace are strongly encouraged to self-test weekly via an Antigen Rapid Test. If an employee tests positive, he/she is required to self-isolate at home for 72 hours and repeat the Antigen Rapid Test every 24 hours until a negative result is obtained. Only then can the employee return to the workplace.

If an individual is alone in his or her own office with the door closed, his or her mask may be removed.

Please see MOM’s requirements on Safe Management measures for the workplace for more information.

While employers may not make vaccination compulsory, unvaccinated employees in certain sectors will have to undergo regular testing under a “Vaccinate or Regular Test” scheme.

Events and attractions

Maximum operating capacity 

The maximum operating capacity for attractions, museums, public libraries and some cruises is 50%. Events of up to 1,000 people are allowed if all attendees are fully vaccinated.

Attractions and shopping malls

From 20 October 2021, only fully vaccinated people and children under 12 years old will be allowed to enter attractions, shopping malls and large standalone stores.

However, unvaccinated people will be allowed to enter a large standalone store if the store is a supermarket. Unvaccinated people will also be allowed to enter shopping malls to obtain medical and childcare-related services if they are able to provide proof of their medical appointment, or a letter of support from the pre-school or childcare centre, respectively.

Religious services 

Religious services may take place with:

  • Up to 50 attendees if they include people who are unvaccinated and without PET; and
  • Up to 1,000 attendees if they are fully vaccinated.

Children aged 12 years and below can participate in the vaccinated-only worship services if they make up no more than 20% of the total number of worshippers on-site.

Up to 50 onstage, offstage and backstage persons may be involved in the worship service (such as performing in it, or in the conducting of it). Up to 20 persons may be unmasked at any one time if their duties require them to be unmasked.

However, if persons will be unmasked for the purposes of singing or the playing of wind or brass instruments, then everyone involved in the live performance elements of the worship service must have a cleared status. The unmasked singers and instrument players must also have a valid Antigen Rapid Test result for the duration of the service.

For more information on the COVID-19 regulations on religious activities, please refer to this update from the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.

Marriages and weddings

The following attendance rules apply for wedding receptions and marriage solemnisations:

  • At home, up to 10 attendees are allowed 
  • At the Registry of Marriages or Registry of Muslim Marriages, up to 10 attendees are allowed for solemnisations but not wedding receptions
  • For solemnisations at external venues: 
    • Up to 50 attendees are allowed without PET 
    • Up to 1,000 attendees are allowed with PET unless the attendees have a cleared status (see the Vaccination section above for the definition of “cleared status”)
    • Group sizes of only up to 2 people are allowed
  • For wedding receptions at external venues:
    • Up to 250 attendees are allowed with PET unless the attendees have a cleared status
    • Group sizes of only up to 5 people are allowed
  • If your wedding or solemnisation involves above 50 attendees: 
    • Attendees must be assigned to multiple zones of up to 50 people each
    • Attendees cannot cross into a zone they are not assigned to
    • A 3-metre gap and a continuous physical barrier or a solid partition of 1.8 metres or taller must be installed between zones

The following mask regulations apply for weddings and marriage solemnisations:

  • The bride and groom may use a face shield instead of a mask throughout the solemnisation
  • The bride and groom may remove their masks or face shields only for key moments, such as the exchanging of vows and rings, to kiss, and during the wedding march-ins and outs. During these moments, the couple needs to maintain a 2-metre distance from the rest of the guests
  • All other attendees must have their masks on throughout the solemnisation process. Masks may be removed momentarily for photo-taking, but must be worn immediately after the photos are taken

*The above capacity and group limits on weddings and solemnisations do not include the solemniser and vendors but they should be kept to a minimum.

*No food and drinks are to be supplied or consumed during a solemnisation event.

For more details on COVID-19 regulations on weddings and solemnisations, please refer to this government advisory.

Alternatively, solemnisations may also be held virtually.

Funerals

Funerals at external venues may accommodate up to 30 people. This 30-person limit excludes religious and supporting workers, but they must be kept to a minimum.

Live instrumental music (except wind and brass) may be performed.

What is Pre-Event Testing (PET)?

To begin with, there are 2 main types of COVID-19 tests:

  1. The Antigen Rapid Test (ART); and
  2. The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test.

An ART takes around 30 minutes to produce results, whereas a PCR test takes up to 48 hours.

As mentioned above, PET may be required for entry into certain events that involve more than 50 attendees. Most PETs require attendees to take an ART as it produces results much quicker.

If the event you would like to attend does not provide PET but you would like to undergo PET on your own, you may do so at an MOH-approved test provider.

People who are fully vaccinated do not need to undergo PET.

Sports and Fitness Activities

You may engage in indoor and outdoor sports activities – this means you may resume activities in areas such as gyms, fitness studios and swimming pools. This is subject to the following rules:

  • You may participate in indoor mask-off sports or exercise activities in groups of up to 2 people who have a cleared status
  • You may participate in indoor mask-on and outdoor mask-on and mask-off sports or exercise activities in groups of up to 2 people irrespective of the cleared status of the individuals
  • A maximum of 30 people including an instructor is allowed for indoor mask-off high-intensity activities
  • A maximum of 50 people including an instructor is allowed for indoor mask-on and outdoor mask-on and mask-off activities

Permitted and Prohibited Activities

The following activities and operations are currently permitted:

  • Tuition and enrichment classes: 
    • Only up to 50 persons are allowed per class and there must be a 1-metre distance between students.
    • If the business is unable to maintain a 1-metre distance between students, students should keep to groups of no more than 2 people with a spacing of 1 metre between groups
    • In-person classes for students aged 12 years and below are allowed
  • Home-based businesses that receive only up to 2 unique visitors a day 
  • Personal care and appearance services that require masks to be removed (e.g. facials, saunas) for individuals with a cleared status
  • Serving of food and beverages to cinema patrons of up to 2 persons if all patrons have a cleared status
  • Lessons involving singing or the playing of instruments that involve the expulsion of air, such as wind and brass instruments, provided that all participants and unmasked instructors have a cleared status
  • Tour groups of up to 50 people for conveyance tours (i.e. tours that involve the movement of people like DuckTours), or tours of up to 20 people for non-conveyance tours

The following activities are prohibited:

  • Visiting a patient in hospital wards
    • This is unless the patient you wish to visit is in critical condition, a paediatric patient, birthing/post-partum mothers, or a patient requiring additional support from caregivers
    • Visitors must have taken a valid negative ART in the last 24 hours, regardless of vaccination status (except those who have recovered from COVID-19 or have a valid PET exemption notice)
  • Visiting a resident in residential care homes 
    • This is unless the resident you wish to visit is in critical condition
  • Singing in karaoke establishments
  • Using barbeque pits and campsites in parks, HDB estates, condominiums and country clubs

When Do You Need to Get Tested for COVID-19?

You may need to undergo PET when attending events. Please see the section above on PET for more information.

You will also need to be tested if you have been identified to be a close contact of a COVID-19 case. If this is the case, you will receive a “Health Risk Warning” SMS from the Ministry of Health and must:

You will also have to do an ART on the seventh day of your last exposure, but do not need to submit the result of this ART online.

If you work in higher-risk businesses such as F&B establishments, establishments providing facial services, saunas or make-up services, gyms and fitness studios, you will need to undergo regular Fast and Easy Testing (FET) regardless of your vaccination status.

FET involves taking an ART every 14 days regardless of your vaccination status, and will take place via Employer-Supervised Self Swab or at Quick Test Centres.

Certain unvaccinated employees may need to take the ART twice every 7 days instead of only once. If you are a cleaner who works in private tuition and enrichment centres with students aged 12 years old and below, you will have to undergo FET once every 7 days.

From 1 October 2021, if you are an unvaccinated instructor or staff working in private tuition or an enrichment centre who works with students aged 12 years old and below, you will need to undergo FET as well, and will have to be tested with FET twice a week. 

Please visit this Ministry of Education website for more information on FET for tuition and enrichment centres.

Overseas Travel

Generally, if you are returning to Singapore from overseas travel, you will need to take a PCR test upon arrival, and may also need to serve a Stay-Home Notice (SHN) for up to 10 days.

Travellers arriving from higher-risk countries/regions will be required to serve their SHN at an SHN Dedicated Facility (SDF), which is typically randomly assigned unless the traveller pays a higher fee. The duration of your SHN will depend on your travel history.

If you are a Singapore citizen or Permanent Resident, you may use the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority’s Travel Health Measures Checker to learn your SHN and PCR test requirements upon arrival in Singapore.

All travellers to Singapore from the countries/regions under “Category I” within the last 14 days may enter Singapore without having to serve an SHN if they test negative in an On-Arrival PCR test:

  • Hong Kong
  • Macau
  • Mainland China
  • Taiwan

All travellers to Singapore from the countries/regions under “Category II” within the last 14 days have to undergo a 7-day SHN at their accommodation of choice:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bahrain
  • Belgium
  • Bhutan
  • Brunei
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Egypt
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Liechtenstein
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Slovakia
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Vatican City

Unvaccinated travellers to Singapore from the countries/regions under “Category III” within the last 14 days have to undergo a 10-day SHN at dedicated facilities, while vaccinated travellers under this category may opt out of dedicated SHN facilities and serve their SHN at an accommodation of their choice:

  • Estonia
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Maldives
  • Slovenia

Travellers to Singapore from all other countries/regions, which are classified under “Category IV”, within the last 14 days have to undergo a 10-day SHN at dedicated facilities. 

Under the Vaccinated Travel Lane, fully vaccinated persons travelling from the following countries may travel to Singapore without serving an SHN on arrival:

  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • The Netherlands
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • South Korea (entry from 15 November 2021)

This is provided that the travellers had remained in the above-mentioned countries for 14 consecutive days prior to arriving in Singapore.

Unvaccinated children aged 12 years old and below (i.e. born in or after 2009) will also be able to accompany fully vaccinated travellers on the Vaccinated Travel Lane.

Travellers older than 2 years old who are entering Singapore under the Vaccinated Travel Lane must take:

  • A pre-departure PCR test within 48 hours of their scheduled departure, and
  • A PCR test upon arriving in Singapore.

They must then remain isolated until they obtain a negative PCR test.

Employees living in Malaysia may enter Singapore with a Periodic Commuting Arrangement, which allows movement of workers between both countries. This Arrangement must be applied for by their employers and will allow workers to remain in their country of employment for at least 90 days before returning to their home country for short-term home leave. 

Additionally, the Ministry of Manpower has resumed entry approvals for work pass holders and their dependents, subject to travellers meeting the prevailing travel health control measures.

Long-Term Pass holders such as Work Pass and Student’s Pass holders have to be fully vaccinated before arrival in Singapore. This includes those who are applying to enter Singapore via the Work Pass Holder General Lane and Student’s Pass Holder Lane from 1 November 2021.

For more updates on COVID-19 restrictions on travel to and from Singapore, please refer to the SafeTravel website.

It is imperative that we continue to work together to keep Singapore a safe and healthy community even during these tough times. The government will review the current measures and may adjust the regulations accordingly if the current COVID-19 situation remains stable.

We will be updating this article as and when such new COVID-19 laws are put in place. In the meantime, we hope you stay positive and test negative.