Up To 50% Of Staff Can Return To Office Next Year
SINGAPORE – The city-state’s Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that up to 50 percent of fully-inoculated employees who can work from home (WFH) will be permitted to return to their workplace starting from 1 January 2022, reported The Edge on Tuesday evening (14 December, SGT).
With only vaccinated workers, those that have recovered from COVID-19, and those who have tested negative from the virus allowed to return to the office starting next year, Singapore is in a better position to relax workplace restrictions, said the government agency in a press release.
However, holding social gatherings in the office is still not allowed. At present, the number of participants in work-related events are capped at 50 individuals.
“We will raise this cap only for events where all participants remain masked and seated, at a safe distance from each other. All participants must also meet the VDS (Vaccination-Differentiated Safe Management Measures) requirements.”
But while the government plans to ease workplace restrictions, it will put in place additional measures to prepare for a possible “omicron wave” as preliminary data on the new virus strain indicates that it’s at least as contagious as the delta variant and could have a higher risk of re-infection.
“Unfortunately, the pandemic is not ending soon. In some ways this is perhaps the calm before the next storm, so we do have to brace ourselves for the omicron wave,” said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs Singapore’s COVID-19 taskforce, during a media briefing on Tuesday.
In an early sign of the authorities plan to encourage the populace to get booster shots, taskforce co-chair and Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said they will impose a “validity period” for vaccine regimes, with the duration to be determined. He added that there’s a need for the government to deem primary vaccination as 3 doses.
This follows similar announcements in the United Kingdom that “vaccine passports” for large-scale gatherings would soon need proof of booster shots from participants.