Singapore restricts gatherings at home ahead of Chinese New Year

File photo of a traditional Prosperity Toss, aka ‘lohei.’
File photo of a traditional Prosperity Toss, aka ‘lohei.’

Singapore has announced new COVID-19 restrictions ahead of Chinese New Year’s celebrations next month. 

Starting Tuesday, Singaporean households may host no more than eight people. When Chinese New Year begins Feb. 12, revelers are limited to visiting two households a day. 

Can’t wait to throw some food? Masks will be compulsory for taking part in traditional Prosperity Tosses, in which people gather around tables and hurl things like raw fish and shredded vegetables high into the air together for good fortune, and then eat the resulting social salad. 

COVID-19 taskforce co-chair Lawrence Wong told reporters today that the new restrictions are meant to prevent a similar reoccurrence of last year’s festivity-fueled spread of the coronavirus. 

“We only need to recall what happened last year when we indeed saw a spike in cases after Chinese New Year, and we had many clusters linked to Chinese New Year gatherings,” Wong said. The cluster of infections among churchgoers last year was linked to people celebrating the occasion. 

“This was last year, we don’t want a repeat of that happening. And that’s why we are making a pre-emptive move now to tighten some of our measures,” Wong added. 

Those who can’t be swayed from tossing are discouraged from talking loudly to limit airborne pathogens joining their airborne fare.

Singapore has reported an uptick in local transmissions since last week, including a new cluster linked to the personnel in a police force K-9 unit. More than 50,000 people have contracted COVID-19 and 29 people died of it since the outbreak began last year. 

The country has started inoculating Singaporeans, starting with politicians and frontline workers. Senior citizens begin vaccination Wednesday, it was revealed today.  

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