Singapore puts forward social distancing measures

SINGAPORE (CNA) – All ticketed cultural, sports and entertainment events with 250 participants or more are to be deferred or cancelled, the Singaporean Ministry of Health (MoH) announced yesterday.

If tickets have been sold for these events, organisers must demonstrate that satisfactory precautionary measures are in place before they can proceed.

For all other mass gatherings including private functions and religious services, the ministry has advised precautions.

These include reducing the scale of events to below 250 participants where possible, reducing the crowding of participants and improving ventilation.

“The basic idea around social-distancing is to reduce density and crowdedness. So that’s the basic objective,” said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong at a press conference yesterday.

People wear facemasks amid fears of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Singapore. PHOTO: AFP

“Because many event organisers need some benchmark or a simple guide; we’ve used 250 as a guide to let event organisers know roughly where to benchmark their events, the size of their events,” he said.

“Obviously it’s more complex than a single number. You would want to think about the density of the event, you would want to think about the duration of the event, and you would think about the nature of the event.”

Wong added: “There is no point having social-distancing (at one place) and then later on you go outside and everybody shares the same food, for example.”

In its news release, the ministry advised event organisers to put in place temperature and health screening measures; turn away persons who are unwell; and put in measures to facilitate contact tracing if needed.

“Participants could be seated at least one metre apart from one another, and be advised to reduce contact with others,” it added.

The ministry advised employers to put in place measures to reduce close contact where feasible. It gave examples of implementing tele-commuting and video-conferencing, staggering work hours and sitting spaced apart in meeting rooms and work stations.

Owners and tenants of venues that are publicly accessible were also advised to take precautions where possible.

These include setting seats at least one metre apart at dining venues, limiting the number of visitors at any one time at venues at entertainment venues and tourist attractions such as casinos, cinemas and theme parks.

Sports centres with indoor facilities such as gyms and private academies could also limit the number of patrons and introduce physical separation measures, the ministry said.

The advisories for events, gatherings, workplaces and venues will be “subject to further review based on the global situation”.

Responding to a question on school closures in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, Wong said that the evidence for such a move is “not so clear at this stage”.