As Singapore increases efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19, workers in the food and drink preparation industry are required to wear masks as a precautionary measure, effective Monday (April 13).

The country began with circuit breaker measures including temporarily closing non-essential businesses, having people work from home and introducing home-based learning for students. Singaporeans have also been encouraged to practise safe distancing and stay at home as much as possible.

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said in an online press conference on Thursday (April 7) that the mandate for workers in the food industry may also become applicable to workers in other industries such as the food delivery service: He said: “We will want to make it mandatory in certain circumstances. And so we are already requiring food handlers to wear a mask.”

He said the food industry had been given time to adapt to the new mandate. “You may not see it now but that requirement has been put in place and we are giving some time for the food handlers to adjust,” he said. “But very soon, all of them will be required to wear a mask.”

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Although the Government has not required all individuals going out to wear masks, it has increased its efforts to encourage people to do so. However, Mr Wong has said that the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 was studying the possible circumstances under which the Government would implement the mandatory wearing of masks.

He also reminded Singaporeans of the importance of wearing masks when they go out on essential matters — most especially in cases where it will be hard to maintain social distance.

Just two days after the online conference with Mr Wong, authorities stepped it up. According to a report by straitstimes.com, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) in a statement on Saturday said that all food and drink workers will be mandated to wear face masks or other types of facial barriers as a precautionary measure, effective on Monday (April 13). The requirement applies to all employees of food and drink businesses, and must be complied with during the entire work period. This includes those taking orders, handling transactions, and serving the food and drinks to customers.

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According to the SFA, “This protects them against possible transmission from others and also prevents transmission to others should they be infected but asymptomatic.”

The SFA also warned that the possible consequences for violating the mandate include a fine of up to S$5,000, the cancellation or suspension of one’s licence, or both.

/TISG