COVID-19 Rules and Restrictions in Singapore (July 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, and is accurate as of 22 July 2021 – Phase Two (Heightened Alert). 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 2 distinct visitors a day applies for both public gatherings and household visits*
  • If your household comprises more than 5 people, you may go out together but must keep to groups of no more than 2 people in public
  • 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 no longer 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 the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine).

Dining 

You are not allowed to dine in at F&B establishments until 18 August 2021.

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

Work

Work-from-home remains the default arrangement – employers must ensure that those who are able to work from home continue to do so.

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.

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

Social gatherings are not allowed in the workplace.

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

Events

Maximum operating capacity 

The maximum operating capacity for attractions, museums, public libraries and some cruises is 25%.

Religious services 

Religious services may take place with up to 100 attendees with Pre-Event Testing (PET) and up to 50 attendees without PET. Please see our section below on PET for more information.

Live performances (such as singing) and playing of wind and brass instruments are not allowed.

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 at external venues: 
    • Up to 50 attendees are allowed without PET 
    • Up to 51 to 100 attendees are allowed only with PET (please see our section below on PET for more information)
  • For wedding receptions at external venues:
    • Up to 100 attendees are allowed only with PET
  • If your wedding or solemnisation involves 51 to 100 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
  • Besides a ”wedding party” of 20 persons (including the bride, groom and witnesses) who must have undergone PET, the rest of the guests will need to keep to groups of up to 2 people for solemnisations and 5 people for weddings. The groups will need to keep at least 1 metre apart at all times

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, even during photo-taking.

*The above capacity and group limits on weddings and solemnisations do not include the solemniser and vendors.

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

Alternatively, solemnisations may also be held virtually.

Funerals

Funerals at external venues may accommodate up to 20 people. This 20-person limit excludes religious and supporting workers, but they must be kept to a minimum.

Live instrumental music (except wind) may be performed, but no singing is allowed.

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.

The following people do not need to undergo PET:

  • From 24 April 2021, individuals who have completed the full vaccination regimen and have had time to develop sufficient protection (i.e. 2 weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine)
  • Individuals who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection, and have received their first PCR positive result not later than 270 days ago. For this exemption to apply, you will need to obtain a PET Exemption Notice from any clinic offering ART or PCR testing services

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:

  • Indoor mask-off activities are not allowed
  • Outdoor mask-off activities are allowed with a class size limit of only 2 people
  • Indoor or outdoor mask-on classes are only allowed with a class size limit of 30 people in groups of up to 2 people

Permitted and Prohibited Activities

  • Medical and dental consultations that require patients to have their masks removed 
  • 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
  • Home-based businesses that operate on a contactless delivery/collection model
  • Home-based services such as tuition and hair-dressing services are allowed 
    • Only 2 students/visitors are permitted 
    • Service providers and visitors must wear a mask and maintain a distance of 1 metre

The following activities are prohibited:

  • Personal care and appearance services that require masks to be removed (e.g. facials, saunas)
  • Serving of food and beverages to cinema patrons
  • Operating a nightlife establishment that had pivoted to serving food and beverage (until 30 July 2021)
  • Singing lessons
  • 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 visit a hotspot on the same day as an infected person. If this is the case, you will receive a “Health Alert” SMS from the Ministry of Health to undergo mandatory testing at designated testing centres. You must stay isolated until you receive your results.

For example, as there was a COVID-19 cluster at Bukit Merah in June 2021, residents of a select few blocks at Bukit Merah had to undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing.

If you work in higher-risk businesses such as F&B establishments, establishments providing facial services, saunas, make-up services, gyms, and fitness studios, you will need to undergo regular Fast and Easy Testing (FET) from 15 July onwards. You do not need to continue with FET if your higher-risk business’ operations have been suspended.

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. Please refer to this GoBusiness Singapore website for more information on FET.

Overseas Travel

As there have been recent sharp increases in COVID-19 cases reported by Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, residents of Singapore are advised to defer all travel to these countries/regions until further notice.

Singapore residents are also advised to defer non-essential travel to Indonesia until further notice.

If you have been fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty or Moderna vaccines, you may travel to all other countries not mentioned above.

However, if you are not vaccinated or only partially vaccinated, you are advised to defer all forms of overseas travel unless you are:

  • Travelling to Brunei, New Zealand or China
  • Pursuing academic studies or professional qualifications overseas for courses or examinations that require your physical presence overseas
  • Taking on or returning to employment overseas for employment opportunities that require your physical presence overseas
  • Undergoing essential travel for business, official and work purposes under Green/Fast Lane arrangements and the Periodic Commuting Arrangement
  • Travelling for compassionate reasons (e.g. due to the death of a family member, or visiting a family member who is critically ill)
  • Travelling to seek medical treatment that cannot be reasonably received in Singapore
  • To return to your country of residence to attend to, or after attending to, legal/contractual obligations.

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 14 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.

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

As more are getting vaccinated against COVID-19 across the world, some countries have begun to make COVID-19 vaccine passports available. These “passports” allow vaccinated persons to travel with fewer or no restrictions. In time, Singapore might also integrate a COVID-19 vaccine passport into its travel or event regulations.

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 in two weeks and may adjust the regulations if the current COIVID-19 situation improves.

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.