Coffee shops and canteens can offer three VDS options from March 7: Amy Khor
From Monday (March 7), coffee shops and canteens will have three options on how vaccination-differentiated safe management measures (VDS) will be implemented to control groups of five diners entering their premises.
The three options are: area-bound VDS, time-bound VDS and area and time-bound VDS.
The announcement was made in a Facebook post on Sunday by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment.
For the first option of an area-based VDS, coffeeshops and canteens will have to cordon off a specific area and implement access control and vaccination checks for diners to sit in groups of five.
Dining will be limited to two people in any areas beyond this cordoned-off section.
The second option of time bound VDS will permit groups of five to dine together from 5pm to 10.30pm across the premises of the coffeeshop, if there are similar entry and vaccination status checks implemented.
Outside of this time period, diners will be permitted to sit only in twos.
The third option allows operators to combine area and time bound VDS. Groups of five diners will be permitted within a cordoned-off area from 5pm to 10.30pm daily.
Access controls and checks on the vaccination status of diners must be similarly implemented and beyond the cordoned-off area and limited times, diners will be permitted to sit only in pairs.
Operators of coffeeshops and canteens who wish to adopt one of the new VDS options will have to submit a proposal to the Singapore Food Agency for endorsement.
This is to ensure that adequate measures have been put in place to safeguard public health.
Upon approval, operators will be required to display signs and posters to inform diners which VDS option is implemented on the premises.
Checks will be conducted by the SFA to ensure that VDS requirements are strictly adhered to.
In her post, Dr Khor said these VDS options were developed after rounds of active consultation with operators and associations to explore solutions to resolve manpower and operational issues to conduct vaccination checks.
"We have had several dialogues with the coffeeshop operators and have heard their feedback about manpower constraints and operational challenges that some continue to face in order to implement vaccination checks for the entire premises," she said.
"Due to the porous nature and layout of coffeeshops, it may be more challenging for them to implement VDS in its entirety, as compared to other food establishments."
She added that the options will provide flexibility for business operations without compromising diners' safety and the current VDS requirements
Since VDS kicked in on Nov 23 last year, 162 coffeeshops and canteens have successfully implemented entry checks for diners to ascertain their vaccination status.
Dr Khor said the flexibility was welcomed by operators who have faced difficulties in implementing VDS in order to allow groups of five to dine together.
She said some operators felt the VDS checks were most critical during evening peak hours when more family members may dine at the coffeeshop and patronise stalls such as those offering zi char and mookata.
"I thank the operators for their hard work, and the diners for their cooperation in ensuring a safe dining experience for all. Let us continue to do our part and keep up our good efforts to keep everyone safe. "