Singapore cuts social gatherings to two, bans dining out

Two individuals wear masks in Singapore. Photo: Victor He
Two individuals wear masks in Singapore. Photo: Victor He

Singapore is reimposing a two-person limit on gatherings and banning dining out for a month in response to the latest wave of COVID-19 infections. 

The tighter restrictions will be in place Sunday through June 13, according to the COVID-19 task force. They also include a mandate for smaller events, a ban on playing wind instruments and singing in public, as well as returning to work-from-home as the default arrangement.

Singapore had been allowing gatherings of up to five, and households allowed to receive five visitors. The reimposed two-person limit also applies to home visits. 

“This will apply across the board, so if you want to go out for anything, grocery shopping, exercise, maximum of two persons henceforth,” task force co-chair Lawrence Wong told reporters earlier today. They will be reviewed after two weeks, he added. 

Events that provide swab tests are required to reduce capacity from 250 to 100, while those that don’t can only accommodate 50 instead of 100.

Anyone planning to lend their vocals and harmonica to a public bluegrass solo has today and tomorrow to do it.

The task force rationalized the restrictions on wind instruments such as clarinets or horns and singing by saying they “require intentional expulsion of air,” without elaborating further. 

Imported variants that are highly contagious have played a role in the third-wave outbreak dragging Singapore back from the verge of a full recovery. More than 100 locally transmitted infections have been logged in the last two weeks following months of single-digit local cases.

Limited access to vaccines has meant a slow rollout, with only 1.8 million people – roughly three in 10 – getting at least one dose. 

The largest outbreaks have taken place at Changi Airport and Tan Tock Seng Hospital. Officials yesterday reported 24 new infections in the “community,” a euphemism for residents that excludes imported cases and the migrant worker dorms where thousands took ill last year. 

Since the start of the outbreak, the city-state has recorded 61,453 infections and 31 deaths. Three people are currently in the ICU. 

Earlier this month, the health ministry said it had detected 29 cases involving other COVID-19 variants. At least seven people were confirmed to be infected by the more contagious B16172 variant discovered in India. 

Other stories:

COVID-19: Singapore’s largest outbreak now taking off at Changi Airport

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