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Singapore's Ministry of Health Bans Events of All Sizes to Reduce Risk of Coronavirus Transmission

A spike in COVID-19 cases has led to a tightening of just-announced restrictions.

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Updated March 24, 2020, 2:35pm ET. Singapore's Ministry of Health expanded its measures aimed at reducing the transmission of the COVID-19 virus, banning all events and any gatherings of more than 10 people.

The guidelines, which tightened its previous rules to limit events to fewer than 250 participants, were announced as a result of a recent spike in imported COVID-19 cases. All bars and entertainment venues like night clubs and theaters are to be closed, though malls, museums and attractions could remain open as long as they: 

  • Reduce operating capacity within the venue at any one time, so that the venue does not have more than one person per 16 square meters of usable space. This is to significantly reduce the density of crowds in these venues, especially during peak periods.
  • Groups must not exceed 10 persons. Shows within attractions (indoor and outdoor), group tours at the museums, and open atrium sales events1 will be suspended.
  • Disperse congregations and provide an environment that allows at least one meter physical spacing between patrons. These include queues and waiting areas. Operators are encouraged to offer services by appointment or through digital services where possible, to minimize queues. Crowds should be quickly dispersed.  

"Singaporeans are advised to avoid holding and participating in social events and gatherings involving more than 10 persons at any one time," wrote the Ministry of Health, in a statement. "These include private celebrations like birthdays and weddings. For funerals and wakes, attendance should be limited as far as possible to family members only, and gatherings of 10 or fewer people at any one point." 

Previously, a number of restrictions had been put on operators of public venues, who are also expected to "implement the necessary precautionary measures to ensure separation of at least a meter between patrons." These include keeping lines moving quickly, whether that's at event registration or retail checkout. Entertainment venues are expected to adopt measures such as reducing operating capacity to allow for more spacing, placing markers on the floor where people line up or incorporating alternating seating.

To help organizers put these restrictions in place, the Singapore Tourism Board followed up the announcement with "operational guidance" that lays out how to put these rules into action. These include:

  • Put up notices and posters in prominent places to remind patrons to comply with relevant prevention and control measures (such as avoid shaking hands with other event participants, practice good personal hygiene, and so forth).
  • Advise participants to practice social responsibility, including to monitor their own health condition and avoid attending the event if unwell.
  • Put in place temperature screening and health declaration measures, including turning away participants who are unwell or whose health declarations reveal health risk.
  • Put in place procedures to capture the particulars of event participants, for contact-tracing purposes, and turn away those who have had travel history in the last 14 days to a country/region where the Stay-Home Notice measure applies, as stated in the Ministry of Health advisory. Event organizers are encouraged to use a government app or their own equivalent apps or processes to facilitate this.
  • Encourage online and mobile purchase of tickets to the venue, and adoption of digital tickets and e-payment modes to minimize the handling of cash.
  • Provide hand sanitizers to front-line staff who handle cash and other devices and who are unable to wash their hands frequently with soap and water.

The full list of measures can be found here.