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COVID-19: The Do's and Don'ts for Businesses in Phase 2
We have almost reached the mid of year 2020, but the world seems to be moving in slow motion for the past three months, and time has practically come to a standstill for many businesses when Circuit Breaker measures were put in place since early April 2020. Even when Singapore moved into Phase 1 of post-Circuit Breaker on 2nd June 2020, many activities were still not allowed to resume.
But just two days ago, 15th June 2020, the Government has announced that Singapore is finally ready to move into Phase 2 after 18th June 2020, 2359 hours. While many are certainly excited to look forward to this day, some others are having mixed feelings about moving on to Phase 2.
Firstly, things are not going to go back to normal like pre-Covid days. Secondly, some businesses are caught off guard that Phase 2 has come sooner than expected.
In order to resume business activities, companies need to ensure that safe distancing measures are implemented and appropriate procedures have to be followed, as well as most importantly, good hygiene and cleanliness of the workplace have to be ensured, especially for the F&B sector.
As of yesterday, seven workplaces were ordered to cease operations due to lack of safe management measures, and there were 52 fines of S$1,000 each issued to employers. As part of its enforcement operations, Ministry of Manpower has inspected workplaces to ensure that safe management measures are in place, and they will continue to do so in Phase 2 of post-Circuit Breaker.
What are The Do’s and Don'ts for Businesses in Phase 2?
To prevent suspension of business activities and getting fines, and of course to ensure your employees' safety and well-being, it is for everyone's sake that we follow safe distancing principles when we are back at the workplace.
First and foremost, employees should return to the workplace only if necessary, such as to use specialised equipment, according to guidelines by the Manpower Ministry. Otherwise, employers should allow employees who can work from home to continue working from home, to the maximum extent. Telecommuting should be the default.
Employers should also implement staggered working hours and break times, or split team arrangements to minimize contact and exposure among colleagues. Where possible, reporting and ending work time should not coincide with peak-hour travel.
At the workplace, clear physical spacing of at least one metre between coworkers must be followed at all times, using high barriers between workstations or relocations of workstations. Socialising with colleagues is also still not allowed in Phase 2.
For businesses and services that are allowed to resume operations, they must implement SafeEntry to allow contact tracing of employees and visitors who check in and check out. Find out how your business can implement SafeEntry (with NRIC or QR code) here.
If you are unsure whether your business is permitted to resume operations in Phase 2, you can check for the list of permitted services on the GoBusiness portal.
Businesses must also submit their manpower details via the GoBusiness portal, under "Permissions and Manpower Declaration", within two weeks of the date of resumption of operations. They should declare the total number of employees working on-site, as well as the proportion of these employees who are working part time and shifts.
Other measures include:
- Appoint a Safe Management Officer to assist in the implementation, coordination and monitoring of the safe management measures
- Employees to wear masks at all times at the workplace
- Implement onsite regular temperature screening and checks twice daily
- Regular disinfection of common touch points and equipment
- Provide cleaning and disinfecting agents at washrooms, and hand sanitisers at places such as entrances and lift lobbies
- Only allow authorised essential visitors to enter your work premises
Lastly, it is important to be prepared should there be a suspected Covid-19 case at the workplace. Have an evacuation plan in place, and in the event of a confirmed case, the affected area should be vacated and cordoned off. All exposed surfaces have to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
In Phase 2, standalone F&B establishments predominantly selling beverages can finally resume operations. Dine-in services are also allowed to resume, however public entertainment activities such as live music and television screenings are not allowed yet. Sales and consumption of alcoholic beverages will also be prohibited after 2230 hours daily.
It has been almost 10 weeks since everyone last had a meal outside in public. But when F&B dine-in services, including at hawker centres, resume in Phase 2, it will not be like how we remember it to be. It may take some time for us to get used to it, but everyone plays a part and let’s be cooperative.
SafeEntry for F&B outlets with seated diners has to be implemented for customers and visitors, as well as temperature screening and checks on visible symptoms. Those that only provide takeaway and/or delivery are not required to do so.
Table and seating arrangement will be limited to 5 or fewer persons, with at least one-metre spacing between tables and groups. Where tables / seats are fixed, they should be marked out to accommodate groups of no more than 5. Self-service buffet lines and catering companies providing meals on other premises will still be suspended.
When there is a need to manage a queue at entrances or cashiers, queue lines should be clearly demarcated, while ensuring one-metre spacing between customers.
Common play areas for children, toddlers and infants in F&B establishments will still remain closed.
Customers also must put on their masks properly at all times, except when eating and drinking.
Retail Establishment and Lifestyle-related Services
Retail establishments include malls, department stores, supermarkets and standalone stores like fashion and beauty retail stores and pharmacies; while lifestyle-related services refer to beauty services, financial services such as money changers and remittance services, pet grooming, gyms and fitness centers, Traditional Chinese Medicine clinics, preschools, tuition and enrichment centres and childcare centres.
Besides the above mentioned on queue management, contact tracing via SafeEntry, health checks and cleanliness, all malls and large standalone stores bigger than 930 square metres (sqm) of Gloss Floor Area (GLA) must comply with the occupancy limit of one person per 10 sqm of GLA. All other stores are not required to adhere to the occupancy limit as long as there is at least one metre safe distancing between individual customers who are alone, or groups of customers up to 5 persons.
To avoid overcrowding, events and activities in stores and mall atriums must not be held. Common play areas for children, toddlers and infants in retail stores or malls must remain closed too.
For lifestyle-related services such as beauty services, as the service providers are usually in close proximity to customers, cleanliness and hygiene are the utmost priority. Towels, tools and equipment that are used have to be changed, disinfected and sanitized after each use,
Tuition and enrichment centres are also prepared to reduce class sizes and reschedule some lessons when they reopen in Phase 2. Private or home-based tuition, piano lessons, dance and drama lessons can resume with opening, however singing or voice training classes will not be allowed.
There are still some services that are still awaiting further guidelines from respective authorities on safe management measures and what procedures to adhere to.
To find out more on sector-specific requirements for safe management measures, you can also visit GoBusiness portal. As there will be different requirements for different sectors, be sure to check out what are specific to your businesses to avoid unnecessary suspension.