Singapore is gearing up to lift its circuit breaker measures imposed to curb the coronavirus pandemic after two months, even as the city-state reported 518 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, taking the total number of infections to 34,884.
Singapore's circuit breaker period will end on Monday, with measures to be progressively lifted in three phase starting the next day.
Under Phase 1 of reopening, businesses that operate in settings with lower transmission risks will be allowed to resume, subject to issued safe distancing guidelines.
Of the 518 new cases reported on Sunday, only three cases are among Singaporeans or permanent residents, the Ministry of Health said in its daily update.
The vast majority of the cases are work permit holders residing in foreign worker dormitories that have emerged as a major source of coronavirus cases following aggressive medical testing of occupants.
As of Saturday, seven coronavirus patients are in critical condition in the intensive care unit out of the 374 hospitalized while 13,242 are isolated and cared for at community facilities for mild symptoms.
In all, 20,727 have fully recovered from the infection and have been discharged from hospitals or community care facilities.
To date, 23 have died from complications due to COVID-19.
Under Phase 1 of ending the circuit breaker shutdown, which starts on Tuesday, those living in cleared dormitories are allowed to go to work using designated transport provided by their employers. They must return to the dormitories after work, the Manpower Ministry said.
On April 21, all migrant workers living in dormitories were told to stop work and were not allowed to move in and out of their dormitories until May 4. The restriction on daily movement was later extended until Jun 1.
These measures were put in place to minimise the risk of further community transmission of COVID-19, according to authorities, reported Channel News Asia.
The inter-agency task force dealing with the outbreak of COVID-19 in dormitories will announce the first batch of cleared blocks or dormitories next week.
A cleared dormitory is one where every block has been cleared of coronavirus cases.
Elaborating, the Ministry said the default mode of working for all companies - including those allowed to resume operations in Phase 1 and later Phase 2 - is working from home.
Employees now working from home must continue to do so. They should go to the office only where there is no alternative, like if they need specialised equipment that can't be assessed from home. Checks will be conducted, it said.
Safe distancing measures must be implemented in the workplace for those who are there.
For offices, this includes the wearing of masks inside the premises, no gatherings with colleagues during meals or breaks, and no cross-deployment of workers.
For manufacturing, cleaning and disinfection of all equipment must be stepped up, among other things.
For shops, the SafeEntry digital check-in system must be in place, floors must be marked to show queue lines and common spaces and items must be regularly disinfected.
Companies must be able to show why staff who return are unable to work from home, said the ministry.