Unspoken Covid-19 rules in Singapore


As IG story #throwbacks remind you of window seat flights and villa adventures in Bali more than a year ago, we can’t help but be more aware of how the pandemic has affected our 2020 and 2021. Wearing masks, carrying TraceTogether tokens and restricting social gatherings to eight pax are now new norms.

But aside from the official restrictions to abide by to avoid getting fined or being put behind bars, there’re also unofficial rules to follow to avoid being put in “social jail”, a.k.a. piercing death stares by the public or even getting shamed on social media. Here are eight unspoken Covid-19 rules you ought to follow so you don’t stick out from the crowd like a sore thumb.

Disclaimer: These are recommendations sourced from online and from others, please refer to gov.sg for official Covid-19 guidelines.

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1. Scan SafeEntry as you walk so you don’t bottleneck the queue


scan SafeEntry
Image credit: Amazon.sg

Unless you’re above the ripe old age of 70 – in which case the public would graciously excuse your slower speed, you’d want to pay attention to this one. Scanning the SafeEntry check-in can take up to two whole seconds for the QR code to be detected by the app. So if you have youth and vigour on your side, scan the SafeEntry while walking so you don’t hold up the queue.

Singaporeans are generally always rushing everywhere, so if you don’t have the app open before approaching the QR code, expect to get a ton of “tsks” and dagger stares. Or if your TraceTogether app is less sensitive, be considerate and move aside so you don’t affect the traffic flow.

Pro tip: Save your most-frequented haunts under the “Favourites” tab on SingPass Mobile (SingPass Mobile on App Store | SingPass Mobile on Google Play)  so you don’t have to scan in and out every time you visit the location.


2. Run as fast as you can back home if you forget to bring your mask out


Run home if you don' have a mask

Though it’s already become second nature for most of us to put our masks on before we step out, accidents happen and there are times when you only realise that you’re looking a little barefaced after reaching the bus stop or MRT station. When this happens, run home to put on a mask before you get fined, and cover your face with a cloth or your hand while you’re at it.

To prevent such cases of emergencies, keep a spare mask in your bag. But if you’re a phone-and-wallet kinda person who doesn’t usually carry along a bag when going out, head to the nearest Guardian and get your hands on a $2 fabric reusable mask ASAP


3. Tuck the elastic bands of your mask behind your ears so you don’t look like a noob


tuck the elastic bands behind your ears

Though you won’t get any angry stares for this one, it would surely induce a ton of mockery from your friends – and trust me, I’ve learnt this the hard way. Be sure to tuck the ear loops of your mask behind your ears, so they don’t stick out awkwardly like human antennae.

If the ear loops on your mask are particularly long, tie the ends into knots so they become shorter in length and a lot less obvious. This enables you to tuck them discreetly behind your ears, especially for males who don’t have long locks of hair to cover it.


4. Don’t take out your mask to cough


don't take out your mask to cough

I’m sure you’ve seen your fair share of Singaporeans casually pulling their masks down just to cough or sneeze, and then pulling it back up without any hint of remorse. Not gonna lie – though it seems a little gross to sneeze into your mask, it greatly limits the spread of bacteria to other people, thus reducing the chances of infecting someone else.

An incredibly irresponsible act that defeats the entire purpose of a mask, pulling one’s mask down to potentially spray your virus into the general vicinity is greatly frowned upon. Instead, leave your mask on when you’re coughing or sneezing

If you’re already feeling under the weather, bring along a packet of tissue to clean up afterwards and have an extra mask with you to switch to as well. But for the safety of the community, you should just stay home and rest if you’re ill.


5. Avoid wearing specs out to prevent mist from forming on your lenses


avoid wearing specs with your mask

Bespectacled folks can resonate with the struggle of annoying mist forming on your specs, blurring up your vision in seconds every time you breathe or talk. And it seems like no matter how you wear your mask or fit the nose clip section snugly, it doesn’t do any good.

A way to completely counter this is a no-brainer: avoid specs when you’re heading out and switch to contact lenses if you don’t want to wipe down your specs every few minutes. 

Alternatively, for those who refuse to put on contacts every morning, try washing your spectacle lens with soapy water and air-drying instead of wiping with a cloth – you’d be surprised at the stark difference of mist production!


6. Wear masks with dark linings if you don’t want to have visible foundation or lipstick stains


wear masks with dark lining
Image credit: Deborah Gan

Foundation and lipstick transfers on masks – a new first-world problem that us girls face. And no, don’t tell us not to wear any makeup because we still have to expose our bare faces while eating out. If you want to avoid those unsightly and embarrassing stains every time you take off your mask, it’s best to get a mask with a darker lining so the stains are less obvious.

Alternatively, you can also get your hands on a mask support guard. Not only does it help you to breathe better, it also limits the contact between your face and the mask. This means less time and trouble spent on scrubbing away all traces of makeup during mask washes.


7. Making reservations at cafes & restaurants during the weekends are a must


make reservations when you dine out

To accommodate the 1-metre safe distancing rule, you would’ve noticed that most restaurants and cafes have slashed their seating capacity by close to half, meaning that securing a seat by walk-ins – especially on the weekends and public holidays – is now far from possible. That is, unless you make your way down during random off-peak hours.

If you don’t want to leave your fate to the gods above and prefer securing a seat beforehand, a note of advice is to make a reservation at your favourite restaurant to avoid disappointing your date – or having to join a snaking queue alongside countless hangry diners.


8. Get ready to chug down your alcoholic drinks if you order at 10PM


Get ready to chug down your alcoholic drinks if you order at 10PM

As if the “no buying of alcohol after 10.30PM” rule wasn’t bad enough, the pandemic has also led to the implementation of a 10PM alcohol restriction for bars and restaurants. This also means that booze lovers have to say goodbye to nights out at the bar till the wee hours of morning – something that defined most of our early adulthood days.

To prevent having to chug down a tower of beer just 30 minutes before the bar closes, plan ahead and arrive early. If starting early isn’t feasible because of your OT woes, make sure to order less so you and your gang can leisurely enjoy the drinks without having to force everything down your throats when the timer runs out.


Unspoken pandemic rules to follow in Singapore


We’re nearly a full year into the pandemic, but it may still take some time for all of us to completely acclimatise to the official rules to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. 

But with the new norms, there are also new societal protocols to follow so you don’t get weird looks from your fellow Singaporeans. Follow these eight unspoken Covid-19 rules to keep yourself and the community safe, and avoid inducing the chagrin of fellow Singaporeans.

Before you go, check out our other pandemic-related articles: