COVID-19 Rules and Restrictions in Singapore (Dec 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 of 6 January 2022 and reflects the key changes as of 1 January 2022 – Transition Phase.

It also covers the changes to the vaccinated-differentiated safe management measures and the 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 5 people are allowed in public areas, and households may accept up to 5 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. Unvaccinated individuals are advised to take a COVID-19 self-test prior to visiting households or otherwise should not visit.

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
  • You are giving a public speech and maintaining a 2-metre distance from the audience
  • You are getting married, or are part of the wedding party group, and are maintaining a 2-metre distance from unmasked attendees

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 and Pre-Event Testing

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 Sinopharm, and AstraZeneca

Persons who opt for the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine will need to get three doses of Sinovac-CoronaVac to complete their primary vaccination series. However, from 14 February 2022, a person’s vaccination status will lapse 270 days after their second dose (or third dose in the case of the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine).

To remain fully vaccinated, all eligible persons aged 18 and above must receive their booster vaccinations (i.e. a third dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty or Moderna vaccines) within 270 days of receiving their second dose (or third dose in the case of the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine). This means that if you had taken your second dose on or before 20 May 2021, you must receive your booster vaccination before 14 February 2022 to remain fully vaccinated.

Apart from being fully vaccinated, a person can also gain a cleared status if they have:

  • Recovered fully from COVID-19 and had received their first positive Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test result in the last 180 days;
  • Had a negative Pre-Event Testing (PET) result from an MOH-approved test provider taken in the past 24 hours before the expected end of the event.

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.

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

From 1 January 2022, unvaccinated persons may no longer undergo PET as a means of obtaining a cleared status.

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.

Dining 

You may dine-in in a group of up to 5 people (regardless of whether the others are from the same household as you) if the group:

  • Is fully vaccinated;
  • Comprises unvaccinated children aged 12 years and below as long as the children are from the same household; or
  • Comprises medically ineligible persons who are certified as such 

The above will also apply to coffee shops and hawker centres that are able to implement vaccination-differentiated safe management measures (VDS), such as checking vaccination status at entry points. Otherwise, groups of only up to 2 fully vaccinated people and children under 12 years old will be allowed to dine-in at coffee shops and hawker centres.

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.

F&B establishments will be allowed to play recorded music, but not live music and entertainment.

Work

From 1 January 2022, only up to 50% of employees with a cleared status may return to workplaces. Employers are strongly encouraged to give “special concessions” for people who are medically ineligible for vaccines to enter workplaces.

For unvaccinated employees without special concession, employers can: 

  • Allow them to undergo PET at their own time and cost to return to the workplace (this concession will be removed from 15 January 2022);
  • Redeploy them to work-from-home jobs;
  • Put them on no-pay leave; or
  • As a last resort, terminate these employees with notice and in accordance with their employment agreement.

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.

Social gatherings and interactions are not allowed at the workplace.

Employees who need to return to the workplace are strongly encouraged to self-test weekly via an ART. If an employee tests positive, he/she is not allowed to return to the workplace until they have obtained a negative result. 

If an individual is alone in his or her own office with the door closed, his or her mask may be removed. From 3 January 2022, work-related events can be held with up to 1,000 participants, given that certain requirements are met.

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

Only people with a cleared status and children under 12 years old will be allowed to enter attractions, shopping malls, libraries and large standalone stores. However, people who are medically ineligible for all vaccines will be given “special concession” to enter such places.

Unvaccinated people will still be allowed to enter a large standalone store if the store is a supermarket. They 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.

However, from 1 January 2022, unvaccinated people will not be able to present a negative test result to enter attractions, shopping malls and large standalone stores.

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 ART result for the duration of the service.

A 2-metre distance between performers and audience (excluding static performers) and a 1-metre distance between groups of performers must be maintained.

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 until 31 January 2022:

  • 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 
    • 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 100 attendees: 
    • Attendees must be assigned to multiple zones of up to 100 people each
    • Attendees cannot cross into a zone they are not assigned to
    • A 2-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, as well as up to 10 individuals who form the wedding party, may unmask throughout the solemnisation and reception as long as they:
    • Have undergone an ART minimally supervised by the venue operator; or
    • Have obtained a valid PET 24 hours before the event; and
    • 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 webpage.

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.

From 1 January 2022, only people with a cleared status and children under 12 years old will be allowed to attend funerals.

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-on, or outdoor mask-on and mask-off sports or exercise activities in groups of up to 5 people, regardless of the cleared status of the individuals 
  • You may participate in indoor mask-off sports or exercise activities in groups of up to 5 people only if everyone in the group has a cleared status
  • 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
  • You must maintain a 2-metre distance between groups, and between individuals for indoor high-intensity or high-movement exercise classes

From 1 January 2022, only people with a cleared status and children under 12 years old will be allowed to enter indoor sports facilities (including private facilities).

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
  • Visiting a patient in hospital wards or residential care homes: 
    • All visitors and patients must be fully vaccinated (unless the patient or visitor is medically ineligible, if so then they may still visit)
    • Visitors must have taken a valid negative ART in the last 24 hours, regardless of vaccination status (excluding those who have recovered from COVID-19 or have a valid PET exemption notice)
    • No visits are allowed if either the patient or visitor is partially vaccinated or unvaccinated by choice. This is unless the patient you wish to visit is in critical condition, a paediatric patient, birthing/post-partum mother or a patient requiring additional support from caregivers

The following activities are prohibited:

  • 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?

When attending certain events

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

If you are a close contact of a COVID-19 case

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 are working in certain industry sectors

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 and private tuition and enrichment centres with students aged 12 years old and below, 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.

For unvaccinated employees, your FET obligations will be on top of other tests that you have to do under the “Vaccinate or Regular Test” scheme mentioned above.

Entering Singapore from Abroad

Generally, if you are entering Singapore from abroad, you will need to take an ART 2 days before departure and take a PCR test upon arrival. You may also need to serve a Stay-Home Notice (SHN) for up to 10 days.

The duration of your SHN will depend on whether you are travelling from a Category I, II, III or IV country/region.  Travellers arriving from a Category IV country/region 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.

Check the SafeTravel website to see which category the country you are travelling from falls under.

You may also use the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority’s Self-Help Tool for Safe Travel Lanes and Entry Requirements to learn your SHN and PCR test requirements upon arrival in Singapore.

All persons above 2 years old who are travelling to Singapore from the countries/regions under the following categories (I – IV) from 8 January 2022 must comply with the following requirements:

Must I take an ART/PCR test 2 days before departure? Must I take an On-Arrival PCR test? Must I serve an SHN?
Category I Yes, you can take an ART (administered by a trained professional) or a PCR test.  Yes. You must then remain isolated until you obtain a negative PCR test result, following which you may go about your activities as per normal. No, if you test negative 
Category II Yes, you must undergo a 7-day SHN at your accommodation of choice
Category III Yes, you must undergo a 10-day SHN at your accommodation of choice
Category IV Yes, you must take a PCR test Yes, you must undergo a 10-day SHN at dedicated facilities

*Under the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) (Air) scheme, fully vaccinated persons travelling from the countries listed on the SafeTravel website may fly into Singapore without serving an SHN on arrival. 

In addition to the requirements in the table above, travellers under the VTL (Air) scheme must take: 

  • On days 2, 4, 5 and 6 of their arrival in Singapore: A self-administered ART
  • On day 3 and Day 7 of their arrival in Singapore: An ART at a Quick Test Centre

Separately, under the VTL (Land) scheme, fully vaccinated Malaysian and Singapore citizens, Singapore Permanent Residents and holders of Singapore-issued Long-Term Passes may travel to Singapore via the Causeway without serving an SHN on arrival.

** Quarantine-free travel under either VTL (Air) or VTL (Land) is available provided that the travellers had remained in the above-mentioned countries for 14 consecutive days prior to arriving in Singapore. In addition, those who travelled via the VTL (Land) scheme to Malaysia, must have arrived in Singapore via the designated VTL (Land) bus services. 

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 both the VTL (Air) and (Land) schemes.

That said, the sale of new VTL (Air) and (Land) tickets has been suspended from 23 December 2021 to 20 January 2022 in view of the rising imported COVID-19 case numbers. However, eligible persons who bought their VTL tickets prior to 23 December 2021 will be able to proceed with their travels as planned.

Employees living in Malaysia may also 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. Employees entering Singapore under this Arrangement will need to serve a 7-day SHN and do a PCR test on Day 7 before being allowed to exit the SHN.

Additionally, Work Pass holders and their dependants may apply for entry approval to Singapore, 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.

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.