Good news: Singapore will not be extending its circuit breaker this time round, and it’s expected to be lifted on June 1 as planned.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) announced in a joint media statement today (May 19) that the circuit breaker measures will be progressively lifted in three phases.
First Phase: “Safe Reopening”
As the risk in community transmission remains high, the Government will first resume economic activities that do not pose a high risk of transmission.
Besides the essential businesses that are already operating, businesses that operate in settings with lower transmission risks will be allowed to open.
Broadly, the following sectors will be allowed to resume operations from June 2:
- Manufacturing and production
- Finance and insurance
- Wholesale trade (excluding retail storefronts)
- Transport and storage
- Professional services
Most manufacturing activities will be able to resume full production subject to them being able to implement the guidelines set for the manufacturing sector.
Nevertheless, the authorities stressed that tele-commuting must be used to the “maximum extent”.
Those who have been working from home so far should continue to do so, and employees should go to the office only where demonstrably necessary.
Only those who require machinery or specialised terminals will be able to return to the office, as well as those who need to complete legal documentation.
Hairdressers and barbers will be allowed to resume all services, beyond just basic haircut services.
All home-based businesses that operate using a delivery or collection model will also be allowed to resume.
Other services that will be able to resume include motor vehicle servicing, aircon servicing, printing, basic pet services, school bookshops and retail shops selling school uniforms.
Schools will also gradually reopen by levels, with full resumption by June 10. For primary and secondary schools, those in graduating cohorts will attend school daily, while the rest will rotate weekly.
Places of worship will be allowed to open next month, but only for private worship of up to 10 persons. Congregational services will not resume.
Social gatherings will also still be prohibited, although an exception will be made for people visiting their parents or grandparents. Siblings will not be allowed to visit each other.
Each receiving household should limit such visits to only one per day, and to not more than two persons who must be from the same visiting household.
This means that dropping off children for childcare will be allowed, although seniors themselves should not go out.
Dining in at food and beverage outlets will continue to be disallowed. Sports and recreation facilities will also remain closed.
Second Phase: “Safe Transition”
In the second phase, people will gradually be able to resume more social activities.
More businesses will be allowed to reopen, including tuition and enrichment centres, gyms and fitness studios. However, employers must implement safe distancing measures and ensure that those who can work from home continue to do so.
In this phase, small social gatherings and dining in at food and beverage outlets could also be allowed.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said that the second phase comprises several steps and could last several months.
Depending on how the Covid-19 situation develops, measures will continue to be eased further until the country reaches the third and final phase.
Third Phase: “Safe Nation”
In the third phase, Singapore will move to a “new normal” until a vaccine is found.
By this time, social, cultural, religious and business gatherings are expected to have resumed. However, limits will be put in place on gathering sizes.
The same applies to services and activities that involve significant prolonged close contact, such as massages, or significant crowd management risk in an enclosed space, such as cinemas.
On public transport, where it is difficult to maintain physical distancing, commuters will have to wear masks and refrain from talking.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said that while some might be disappointed that they will not be able to go out freely and socialise after the end of the circuit breaker, the reopening needs to be done carefully.
“We have to do this in a careful and calibrated manner as we don’t want to risk a flaring up of virus. And importantly, we do not want to sacrifice the efforts all of us have put in controlling the outbreak,” he said.
He added that the Government would continue to support businesses and workers that are unable to open on June 2.
Featured Image Credit: SME Asia