Couple in late rush for bigger wedding as restrictions ease
Covid-19 rules relaxed for workplaces, weddings, places of worship but safety measures must be in place
With slightly over a month to go to their big day, the couple were resigned to hosting just 30 guests comprising immediate family and relatives for a simple wedding affair at a restaurant in early November.
Then came yesterday's announcement on the further easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
Among them was allowing up to 100 people, including the bride and groom, to attend wedding receptions in venues that are permitted to serve food and drinks from Oct 3 - double the current limit of 50 under a pilot scheme.
The 100 allowed excludes vendors and service providers.
The news sent Mr Harith Mustaffa, 26, and his wife-to-be, Ms Farzana Arsad, 27, scrambling to make new arrangements, with their main concern being the short window for them to make the changes.
They had settled on 30 guests because that was the maximum capacity of the venue. Now Mr Harith, a journalist, was worried if there would be enough time to switch to a bigger venue that can cater to 100 guests.
He told The New Paper: "We welcome the latest move, but it is a hassle to tweak plans and arrangements at such a late stage.
"We will have to wait and see how the vendors respond to our requests for changes to the existing arrangements."
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong announced at a virtual press conference yesterday that marriage solemnisation ceremonies can also host up to 100 guests, split into multiple zones of up to 50 people each.
"Although wedding receptions are higher-risk events as large groups of people interact and mingle, we believe that with strict adherence to the safe distancing and safe management measures, we can still enable a joyous occasion for wedding couples and their families and friends," he said.
Mr Gan, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 with Education Minister Lawrence Wong, said there must be at least 30 minutes between slots for cleaning and disinfection of the event space.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said venue operators may impose a lower cap if they are unable to comply with the zoning or staggered timing requirements. Video link solemnisations will still be offered as an option to couples.
From November, Mr Gan said, a new pilot will allow wedding receptions arranged by a registered wedding organiser to take place at Housing Board common areas such as void decks and multi-purpose halls.
Similarly, all religious organisations will be allowed to conduct congregational and other worship services for up to 100 people, split in two zones of 50, from Oct 3, said Mr Gan.
All congregants must be subject to safe distancing and safe management measures, he said.
The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth is also considering a pilot to increase worship limits to up to 250 devotees, split into five zones of 50.
Other significant easing of restrictions include:
- Allowing more employees to return to the office from next Monday. Safe management measures must be in place and employers should ensure flexible working hours and staggered reporting times. Employees must continue to work from home for at least half their working hours as working from home remains the default option.
- A new pilot scheme will allow essential business travel by senior executives with extensive regional or international responsibilities.
- From Oct 1, cinema halls with more than 300 seats can have up to three zones with up to 50 patrons each, while smaller halls can have up to 50 per cent of their original operating capacity, subject to safe management measures.
Mr Wong said the Government is working out the road map towards phase three, which will be announced in the coming weeks.
But Singaporeans, he warned, cannot be complacent and must remain vigilant.
"We would like everyone to be part of the TraceTogether programme because the more people that are participating, then the greater our confidence is in opening up and resuming activities," Mr Wong added.
Infectious diseases expert Leong Hoe Nam said the easing of restrictions was possible because the rates of transmission have become significantly lower with the use of face masks, social distancing measures and good hand hygiene.
"With these habits paying off, I am confident we can move into phase three smoothly."