Singapore returns to lockdown-like conditions

Singapore returns to lockdown-like conditions

Three weeks after it outlined its much-publicised road map for living with COVID-19, Singapore is returning to the lockdown-like conditions, banning dining-in and limiting gatherings to two people, as a rising number of Covid-19  virus infections pressures one of the most successful places in the world at Covid containment.

Only in  June, Singaporean legislators unveiled the country's roadmap to a "new normal" in a letter published in a leading local news paper, The Strait Times, outlining a radical departure from Singapore's previous "zero transmission" model. Eventually, they were hoping, COVID-19 will be treated as a less severe disease, like influenza or chicken pox.

Singapore is now right back on the defensive, with the phase-two enhanced restrictions coming back into force on Thursday. Restrictions will be  in place until August 18 to control people's movement in its fight against the spread of Covid-19 as the health authorities reported 195 new infections on Tuesday.

Singapore governmnet  had tried to balance its objectives even as new cases were in double figures over the past week, shifting strategy by introducing different dining rules for the vaccinated and unvaccinated

However to manage the rate the new clusters are growing and the spike in COVID-19 community cases, Singapore quickly return to its Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) measures and ban dine-in at food and beverage (F&B) establishments from Thursday (22 July) to 18 August. 

In a press release on Tuesday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that this is to reduce the risk of community transmission. 

During this period of close to four weeks, both indoor and outdoor dine-in F&B establishments, including hawker centres and food courts, will only be able to offer takeaway and delivery options. 

Singapore is only weeks away from having two-thirds of people fully vaccinated, a target it is endeavouring to achieve by National Day on August 9. Singapore is using American-manufactured mRNA vaccines Pfizer and Moderna and has flagged the resumption of quarantine-free travel to and from low-risk nations by the end of the year.

But Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said “now is really not the time to risk it all”.

“We need to bite this bullet, dial back on social activities, and then use this time to push through the vaccination efforts,” he said.

Permissible group sizes for social gatherings will also be reduced from a maximum of five persons to a maximum of two persons, together with a cap of two distinct visitors per household per day. 

"Individuals should continue to limit their overall number of social gatherings to not more than two per day, whether to another household, or meeting with friends and family members in a public place," the MOH said. 

To allow families’ current childcare arrangements to continue, grandchildren being cared for daily by their grandparents will not be counted towards the cap of two distinct visitors per household, or to the number of social gatherings per day.