Singapore will implement Phase 2 of its post-circuit breaker reopening from 19 June, according to an announcement from the country’s COVID-19 multi-ministry task force. Phase 2 will involve the resumption of “most activities” in accordance with safe distancing principles.
The decision was reached after a reassessment of the country’s coronavirus situation, which has seen significant improvement since the beginning of Phase 1 on 2 June after the country exited a two-month-long “circuit breaker” designed to limit the spread of coronavirus. Singapore has seen a sustained drop in active cases from a peak of 20,799 cases in mid-May to 10,426 cases, with a new low of 214 new cases, yesterday.
“Community infection rates have remained generally stable despite the increase in workplace activity in Phase 1 of re-opening,” Singapore’s Ministry of Health said in a media statement. “The incidence of cases in migrant worker dormitories has also declined, and there are no new large clusters emerging.”
What Does Phase 2 of Singapore’s Reopening Entail?
• Small-group social gatherings of up to five people can resume.
• Households may receive up to five visitors at any one time.
• Retail businesses may re-open their physical outlets.
• Dine-in at food and beverage outlets will resume, with up to five persons allowed to sit together.
• All healthcare services, including face-to-face visits at residential facilities for the elderly, will resume.
• Sports, parks and other public facilities will reopen.
• Personal wellness and health services will resume.
Under these new rules, safe distancing of at least one metre is to be maintained at all times. If safe distancing between individuals is not feasible, the one-metre requirement can be enforced between groups of up to five people.
Despite the relaxed rules, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong warns that Phase 2 should not be taken as a sign that citizens can let down their guards: “I think if we were to take that kind of a mindset and attitude, it will be very easy for Phase 2 to end up with a surge in cases and potentially down the road, the likelihood of having to reintroduce restrictions.”
As Singapore’s reopening enters its second phase, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong cautions against attempts to evade the safe distancing rules. “You can fool the rules but you cannot fool the virus,” warns Gan. ‘If you violate the rules, the virus will get to you. The purpose and objective of the rules and regulations is to protect you and not just to penalise you.”
Singapore is set to reopen in three phases. Although it could be months before Phase 3 can begin, the third stage is expected to become the “new normal” until an effective vaccine or treatment is found for the virus. The government is also looking at options to gradually reopen its borders to allow international travel to boost its economy, as the virus subsides in neighbouring countries, although its official advice to Singaporean residents still recommends deferring all non-essential travel abroad.
More details about Phase 2 of Singapore’s reopening can be found here.