Coffee shops and canteens in Singapore will have three options to implement vaccinated-differentiated safe management measures (VDS) starting from Mar. 7.
This allows groups of up to five fully vaccinated persons to dine-in at their premises, said Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Amy Khor in a Facebook post on Sunday (Mar. 6).
Under current safe management measures, only two fully vaccinated persons are allowed to dine-in together at coffee shops and hawker centres which do not implement VDS checks.
The three options
The three options are area-bound VDS, time-bound VDS, and area and time-bound VDS.
1. Area-bound VDS
Under the area-bound VDS option, coffee shops and canteens can cordon off a specific area in their premises for five-pax dine-in.
Access control and vaccination checks must be implemented at this defined area.
Beyond this cordoned area, only two-pax dine-in will be allowed, where there are no vaccination checks conducted.
2. Time-bound VDS
Under the time-bound VDS option, coffee shops and canteens can allow groups of five to dine-in at their entire premises from 5pm to 10:30pm daily, if access control and vaccination status checks are implemented during this time.
Outside of the stipulated timing, only groups of two are allowed to dine-in.
3. Area and time-bound VDS
This last option combines both the area-bound and time-bound VDS options.
Coffee shops and canteens can permit groups of five to dine-in together in a cordoned-off area that has implemented access controls and vaccination status checks from 5pm to 10:30pm daily.
Beyond this cordoned area and timing, only groups of two are allowed to dine-in.
Operators to inform SFA of intention to adopt VDS options
The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) said that operators who are interested in adopting any one of these options are to be clear in informing their patrons of the time-bound and area-bound VDS with “clear signages and posters” so there is “no ambiguity”.
Interested operators must also submit a proposal for SFA’s endorsement.
Operators can implement the area and/or time-bound VDS from Mar. 7 after SFA has verified that the necessary measures are in place.
Khor said in her post that SFA will conduct checks to ensure that VDS requirements are strictly adhered to.
Multiple options allow for flexibility: Khor
Khor said these VDS options were developed after consulting with operators and associations to “explore solutions to resolve manpower and operational issues to conduct vaccination checks”.
She noted how the “porous nature and layout” of coffee shops may make it more challenging for operators to implement VDS in its entirety, as compared to other food establishments.
She said these options will “provide flexibility for business operations without compromising diners’ safety and the current VDS requirements”.
“This flexibility is welcomed by operators who may face difficulties in implementing five pax VDS dine-in for the entire coffeeshop.
For instance, some operators have shared that the VDS checks are most critical during evening peak hours when more family members may dine-in at the coffeeshop and are also more likely to patronise stalls such as Zi Char and Mookata.”
Khor shared that since the VDS requirement was implemented on Nov. 23 last year, 162 coffee shops and canteens have successfully implemented vaccination checks at their entire premises.
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Top photo via Amy Khor/Facebook