Singaporeans can look forward to hitting the gym, eating out and shopping again when the second phase of the “circuit breaker” exit plan happens, which is expected to take place before June ends if COVID-19 transmissions remain low.
COVID-19 task force co-chair Lawrence Wong told reporters yesterday that a decision will be made in two weeks to confirm the start of Phase 2. Singapore’s “circuit breaker” lockdown formally ends Monday, which marks the start of Phase 1 of the exit strategy, in which many businesses including manufacturing will resume.
“Phase 1 alone will see about 75% of the economy resuming operations. Thereafter, we will continue to monitor the situation, particularly over the first two weeks of June. If the community transmission – if infection rates over these two weeks remain low and stable – then we will decide by the middle of June on whether we want to take the next step to move to Phase 2; and that means Phase 2 could happen before the end of June,” Wong said.
Dining out and family visits will be capped to groups of five, he added. Other public venues like stadiums and swimming pools are also expected to open.
Singapore yesterday reported 373 new cases, of which 372 were workers residing in dormitories. This pushes the total number of infections to 33,249. The official death toll stands at 23.
Higher-risk businesses such as nightclubs, cinemas, and spas, were slated to be among the last to resume operations in Phase 3. But Wong said there will be talks with businesses and organizations to see whether they may open in Phase 2 with relevant safety measures in place.
“All of these venues and settings, based on our experience and overseas experience, have had instances where there have been cases of transmission in such settings. So, we want to take a more cautious approach for activities in these areas to resume,” he said.
Those who need to travel for essential reasons such as work could be allowed to do that in the coming months.
Wong said that Singapore is in talks with countries that have their outbreaks under control to reopen borders and allow essential travel, with protocols in place.
“In parallel, while we talk about reopening of these activities in our community, we are also continuing with conversations and work on reopening our borders – establishing travel bubbles with countries where the virus situation is under control and having safe green lane travel arrangements with specific countries. The idea is to have clear protocols in place that would include testing of travellers from one country to Singapore and vice versa,” he said.
Testing would be critical to that, he added
“With these testing protocols in place, we can have assurance that the traveller is free from infection and then essential travel can then resume; step-by-step, depending on the countries that we have established these green lanes, or travel bubbles, with,” he said. “That’s work in progress.”