As COVID cases continue to rise, Singapore has rolled out new norms for dining in at restaurants that depend on whether or not a person is fully vaccinated.
Under the new rules, implemented from Monday, July 19, fully vaccinated individuals and those who have recovered from the virus can dine in groups of up to five without first taking COVID tests, according to a Health Ministry release. The onus is on the food outlets to conduct checks on the vaccination status of their customers, said a CNBC report.
However, a Channel News Asia report said some food outlets continue to limit dining in groups to two persons, regardless of their vaccination status. “F&B (food and beverages) establishments ‘have the flexibility to decide’ whether to introduce the vaccination-differentiated group sizes,” it quoted the Health Ministry circular as saying.
Test reports for non-vaccinated
Under the new rules, unvaccinated people have to show negative antigen rapid test reports to join groups of up to five for meals. Otherwise, they are limited to groups of two.
For children aged under 12, dining in is allowed together with family members even without taking a COVID test. Again, these groups cannot exceed five members. Vaccines for children below 12 are yet to be introduced.
Per Singapore law, an individual is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second COVID shot, said CNBC. The island nation allows Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
According to the report, the government had earlier said those who took the vaccine developed by Chinese pharma firm Sinovac Biotech would not enjoy the same perks as those who went for a Pfizer or Moderna shot. The Sinovac formulation is not part of Singapore’s national vaccination programme; it can be taken only through a special access route, said CNBC.
The CNA report said McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Subway, Long John Silver’s, Toast Box, Carl’s Jr, Nando’s, Arnold’s Fried Chicken and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf are sticking to the two-person limit.
KFC said in a Facebook post: “This has not been an easy decision especially since everyone has been working so hard to make sure things get better. However, keeping you and our employees safe is our topmost concern and we have decided that this would be best for all.”
At hawker centres, coffee shops and food courts, dining in is limited to groups of two, regardless of vaccination status.
The CNBC report recalled that nightclubs, bars and karaoke TV lounges have been banned in Singapore since the onset of COVID in 2020. They are viewed as high-risk spots as customers tend to socialise with hostesses, it said. Some of these establishments, however, continue to operate as plain F&B outlets, it added.