Life will not go back to normal in Singapore after coronavirus restrictions end on June 1: Minister

Singapore scored 84.8 out of a possible 100, beating the United States to the top spot in the rankings of 141 economies. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

SINGAPORE, May 9, 2020, ST. Life will not go back to normal immediately after June 1, when Singapore’s Covid-19 circuit breaker measures are to be lifted, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong during a virtual press conference on Friday (May 8), The Straits Times reported.

He said more precautions will have to be taken, including measures which make use of technology – such as the digital check-in system SafeEntry in workplaces, an enhanced TraceTogether contact-tracing app, and possibly dongles which people can carry around to help with contact tracing.

“By the time we get to post-June 1, we will have some solutions in place to have faster contact tracing happening,” said Mr Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling the coronavirus outbreak.

“So that even if there were a case that emerges during that period, we can do much faster contact tracing, identify the contacts around that person, and quickly issue quarantine orders on an electronic platform instantly.”

The solution will be announced when ready, and everyone will be expected to have it in place, Mr Wong added. He said they are also exploring other ways of enhancing contact tracing which do not require the use of a smartphone.

“We are also looking at possibilities, like a wearable, a dongle that people can carry with them when they go out. So for those without smartphones the possibility of being able to track them remains, for contact tracing purposes.”

He added that people must be prepared that the scenario after the circuit breaker will be one of “gradual, calibrated easing”.

“Whatever the decision, whatever happens in the coming days or weeks, it is clearly not going to be the case that after June 1 everything will be lifted, and we will go back to status quo ante.”

At noon on Friday, the Ministry of Health preliminarily confirmed 768 new cases of Covid-19 in Singapore, bringing the total count to 21,707. Foreign workers living in dormitories continue to make up the bulk of new coronavirus cases here.

Mr Wong added that Singapore continues to fight the coronavirus on “two major fronts” – controlling the outbreak in the migrant worker dormitories and in the wider community. The situation in purpose-built dormitories has been stabilising, he said, but they are still taking time to clear other dormitories, such as the smaller factory-converted ones.

Some businesses, such as selected food outlets and hairdressers, are allowed to reopen from May 12, subject to restrictions.

Mr Wong urged these firms to put in place measures to have a safe working environment, and not be in a rush to raise their shutters on May 12.

“If business premises don’t have necessary precautions and safeguards in place, we may have to ask you stop work anyway, and there will be penalties imposed.”

He also urged people to not be in a hurry to patronise these businesses.

“The circuit breaker is still in place, and we should make the most of these next three weeks and more… to bring our community numbers down as much as possible.”

“In the meantime, let us also do everything we can to protect our seniors because they are the most vulnerable group. If you are living with an elderly (person) in the same household, then encourage the person not to go out, and try to run errands on their behalf.”

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