SINGAPORE – After an eight-month hiatus, weekend warriors like Kesavan Annamalay will finally get the opportunity to step onto a school field for a kickabout. 

National agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) and the Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday announced the resumption of selected sports facilities under the Dual-Use Scheme (DUS) for the public during the year-end school holidays from Saturday to Dec 27.

Public use of all school sports facilities under DUS, which include indoor sports halls and fields, was suspended in March because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Even though we are still not allowed to play a full game of 11-a-side football (due to safe management measures), I’m still looking forward to just being back on a pitch and having drills in small groups,” said Mr Annamalay, who has already made a booking at a field at a school in the west.

The 33-year-old senior engineer added: “Overall, it’s a good sign that the authorities are opening up more facilities for sport and hopefully, with everyone doing their part, we can see a full return to normal activities soon.”

From Saturday, members of the public will be able to access 50 chargeable fields and 119 indoor sports halls located in 135 primary and secondary schools. Bookings can be made through the ActiveSG app.

The 169 facilities that will reopen account for less than 60 per cent of the 290 DUS facilities, which also include free-to-play fields and had a pre-pandemic take-up rate of about 80 per cent.

SportSG and MOE said they would review the feasibility of extending public use of DUS facilities beyond Dec 27.

Mr Sng Hock Lin, chief of ActiveSG, said the intent of reopening some facilities was to offer more spaces for the public to exercise while ensuring that the safety of players, as well as that of school students and staff, is not compromised.

“While we want to encourage everyone to continue leading an active lifestyle, we urge all to do so safely and responsibly, and to remain vigilant,” he added.

Some of these measures include SafeEntry and temperature taking, ensuring no intermingling and cross-playing between different groups, and for the facility hirer to be present during the time of play.

For users of badminton DUS facilities, a maximum of only five persons – including an instructor or coach – are allowed per court, with only four players allowed on each court at any one time.

For other court-based sports – netball, volleyball, basketball and floorball – a maximum of five persons per court are allowed, while a maximum of 50 persons are allowed on each field, with a 3m distancing between groups of five. For football, only two groups of five are allowed on the field at any one time.

A safe distancing ambassador and a facility warden will be stationed at each facility to ensure that players observe the required measures.

In addition to the regular cleaning routine, all touch points within the facilities will be wiped down at the end of each day of public use. The facilities will also be thoroughly cleaned before the start of the school term next January.

SportSG will take strong action against individuals who fail to comply with safe management measures, including barring them from the use of all DUS and ActiveSG facilities.

Public use of the affected facilities may also be suspended as a result of such non- compliance.

In July, the national agency suspended the ActiveSG membership accounts of 29 players from a social badminton group that flouted safe management measures.

SportSG also announced yesterday that contact sports, including combat sports such as wrestling and jiu-jitsu that have prolonged physical contact, can resume as long as activities are kept to a group of five.

Only transient contact was allowed previously, with rugby tackles and grappling in mixed martial arts disallowed. 

National sambo athlete Nazri Sutari, who won the gold medal at last year’s SEA Games, said the easing of restrictions will mean there are “a lot more things I can impart to my students”. 

The 30-year-old, who coaches at Impact MMA and Jagsport, is hopeful that class sizes can be increased next, adding that the gyms’ classes are often “maxed out”.