Face masks, high barriers, daily declarations: what it’s like going back to the office in Singapore

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Face masks, high barriers, daily declarations: what it’s like going back to the office in Singapore

If you’re among the minority of Singapore financial professionals returning to the office as circuit breaker restrictions ease, beware that your working environment will be a lot different from what you’re used to. The Ministry of Health (MOH) has outlined the measures that employers must take from tomorrow onwards to help control the spread of the virus.

For example, it won’t just be necessary to wear face masks while out, you’ll have to don them in the workplace at all times. You can take them off “during activities that require them to be removed”, but this exception is unlikely to apply in banking (the example given is of “riding a motorcycle in the course of employment”). The good news is that it’s up to employers to ensure they have “sufficient masks for all employees”, although many banks in Singapore have been providing masks to staff since February.

The new MOH rules also provide further details on helping to ensure you stay at least 1 metre away from your colleagues. This must be done via “visual indicators or through physical means”, such as “high barriers between workstations”.

While regular temperature screening has been in force in many offices for the past three months, employees must now submit daily declarations, including regarding their travel history, quarantine or isolation orders, stay-home notices, medical certificates for respiratory symptoms, and contact with confirmed Covid-19 cases. Employees are also encouraged to help the government’s contact tracing efforts by using the SafeEntry and TraceTogether apps at the workplace.

Socialising with colleagues (even at a safe distance) is discouraged. It’s becoming mandatory for employees to have staggered working and break hours to “reduce possible congregation of employees at all common spaces, including entrances, exits, lobbies, canteens and pantries”. But “there must be no cross-deployment or interaction between employees in different shifts, teams or worksites, even outside of work”. 

The MOM website outlines the rules in greater detail. They apply to all financial services employees, but critical operations and trading staff are most likely to be office-based now and in the near future. The ministry is still encouraging employees who can work from home to continue to do so.

Photo by De an Sun on Unsplash

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