TraceTogether check-ins compulsory at public venues by end of year

Visitors to locations including restaurants, workplaces, schools and shopping malls will have to use TraceTogether to enter by the end of the year.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - By the end of December, checking in with the TraceTogether app or token will be mandatory at all popular venues, including restaurants, workplaces, schools and shopping malls, as Singapore prepares to enter phase three of its reopening.

It means members of the public will no longer be able to gain entry to these places by scanning SafeEntry QR codes with their phone cameras, or through the SingPass mobile app or barcodes on their NRIC. SafeEntry is the nation's digital check-in system mandated at all these places.

They must instead use either the TraceTogether app or token.

Mandatory use of TraceTogether will start at cinemas, which is among venues with activities that involve larger groups of people.

Revealing this at a virtual press conference on Tuesday (Oct 20), the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 said that the measure aims to get at least 70 per cent of Singapore's population on the TraceTogether programme, a contact-tracing technology to detect the people who had been in close proximity with Covid-19 patients.

Having 70 per cent of Singapore's population using TraceTogether is one of the conditions that has to be met for Singapore to enter phase three, said Education Minister Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the task force.

"When we have both a higher take-up rate of TT (TraceTogether) and wider deployment of TT-only SafeEntry... and community transmission throughout this period remains low, then there is a good chance of us entering phase three... by the end of the year," he said.

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Other venues with mandatory TraceTogether check-in will also include those with live performances, business events and places of worship with more than 100 people, said the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG).

The TraceTogether app includes a function for scanning SafeEntry QR codes, while the tokens sport a QR code with a similar function.

Mr Wong noted that only about 2.5 million people, or 45 per cent of the population, are currently using either the TraceTogether app or token.

"We would like that to be higher, for TraceTogether to be effective," he said.

There are already 38 community centres today distributing tokens. By end November, TraceTogether  tokens will be made available at all 108 community centres islandwide.

The TraceTogether app and token work by exchanging short-distance Bluetooth signals with other apps or tokens nearby. This proximity data is encrypted and stored for 25 days before being automatically deleted.

Earlier this month, the SNDGG said more than 100,000 tokens have been collected.

For the latest updates on the coronavirus, visit here.

This article was first published in The Straits Times.