Workers return to places of work, but some say they will not take masks off despite easing of COVID-19 measures

SINGAPORE: While some staff had been wanting ahead to taking their masks off within the workplace on Tuesday (Apr 26), some stated that they will proceed to put on a masks as a further precaution to shield their relations.

On Tuesday morning, the primary day that almost all COVID-19 protected administration measures are relaxed in Singapore, a gradual stream of staff flowed out of Raffles Place MRT station.

With SafeEntry gantries eliminated, the central enterprise district appeared extra like its previous self, though the group was nonetheless slightly thinner than earlier than the pandemic. 

Most staff saved their masks on as they walked to work, despite the fact that it’s not obligatory to put on a masks outdoor. 

Last week, the COVID-19 multi-ministry activity drive introduced that from Tuesday, all staff can return to the office. They also can take their masks off within the workplace when they are not interacting bodily with others and when not in customer-facing areas.

Nearly all of the employees interviewed by CNA stated that they have been coming again to work within the workplace on sure days or full-time for fairly some time. 

Mr Sid Kapur, who has been working two days per week from the workplace, stated that he’s wanting ahead to having the ability to take his masks off within the workplace. 

“We’re quite spaced out in the office, so it hasn’t been too much of a problem for us,” he stated. “I’m looking forward to the changes, I think over the last week or so, you see more people taking off their masks outdoors, that’s quite pleasant to see.”

But some folks informed CNA that they will proceed to put on a masks, as their jobs contain interacting with shoppers or as a further precaution to shield weak relations, similar to aged mother and father or younger youngsters.

Ms Cindy Ng, a  purchaser, has been again within the workplace 5 days per week for 2 weeks, and stated that she does not thoughts working from the workplace or from house, aside from the time spent commuting.

As her workplace is not very spacious, she stated she will nonetheless put on a masks. She added: “I think I still prefer to put on a mask. There are a lot of people talking in my office.”

Mr Goh, who was returning to the workplace full-time after two years of principally working from house, was shielded by a hood that he stated was a “power-assisted personal respirator”. Under that, he wore three masks – an N95 masks sandwiched by two surgical masks.

The IT safety government, who did not give his full title, stated that it’s to shield his two-year-old daughter, who’s not eligible for any vaccines. Turning off the respirator to converse, his glasses rapidly fogged up and his solutions had been muffled.

He added that he will not eat or drink at work in order not to take away his protecting gear.

A number of different staff stated that they are nonetheless awaiting pointers from their managers on protected administration measures within the workplace.

Mr Ryan Phua, who’s in personal banking, stated he would really like to give you the chance to take his masks off but his firm could have “stricter rules”.

“I’m waiting for my boss to … give the mandate on whether we can (take our masks off) in the office,” he stated. 


An Institute of Policy Studies research of attitudes in the direction of work and workplaces discovered that extra respondents had been receptive to the prospect of colleagues unmasking at workplaces. The surveys had been carried out in April this 12 months earlier than the most recent easing of measures was introduced.

The proportion of respondents who stated folks ought to proceed to be masked on the office was 34 per cent, whereas 43 per cent felt that masks might be eliminated if they are on the office with their common colleagues.

Companies that CNA contacted, in addition to the Public Service Division, stated that they will adhere to protected administration restrictions from the authorities.

The advisory from the COVID-19 multi-ministry activity drive final Friday stated that whereas staff can take away masks whereas not interacting with others, they are suggested to “exercise social responsibility and maintain an appropriate safe distance from others while unmasked”.

The activity drive additionally inspired employers to retain and promote versatile work preparations, similar to telecommuting and staggered work hours, as a everlasting function of the office.

Beyond the advantages of versatile work, this will additionally assist staff keep away from peak interval crowds as extra folks return to the office, stated the Ministry of Health (MOH).

A assertion from the tripartite companions – the Manpower Ministry, National Trades Union Congress and Singapore National Employers Federation – additionally inspired companies to completely supply versatile work preparations.

Mr Lee Yan Hong, head of Group Human Resources at DBS stated that the financial institution will proceed its everlasting hybrid working mannequin that offers workers the pliability to work remotely up to 40 per cent of the time.

“We will also keep up with our workplace hygiene practices and the cleanliness of common spaces in our offices, and continue engaging our employees on the need to remain vigilant and exercise social responsibility to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 at the workplace,” he stated.

At office consultancy Paperspace Asia, staff have been ready to select when they need to return to the workplace, and the corporate will additionally allow them to determine whether or not or not to put on their masks at their workstations.

Ms Angeline Dass, office change marketing consultant at Paperspace, cited a survey by the corporate final 12 months that discovered that sporting a masks for lengthy hours within the workplace was one of the highest considerations of staff who had been used to working from house.

She thinks that extra folks could also be extra prepared to return to the office if they do not have to put on a masks for lengthy hours.

“It’s about giving people a personal choice, and not hindering the larger objectives such as encouraging interaction and fostering collaboration,” stated Ms Dass.

She suggested that corporations not simply set days for workers to return to the workplace, but additionally set clear plans on when they can meet staff members and have cross-department interactions to construct up camaraderie.

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Workers return to offices, but some say they will not take masks off despite easing of COVID-19 measures

Chew Hui Min

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