Saturday 15 May 2021

Singapore tightens COVID-19 measures from 16 May to 13 June 2021

Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) in the Fight Against COVID-19
Singapore to cap social gatherings at two, ban dining out until June 13
Tighter restrictions on social activities meant to curb spike in COVID-19 cases
By Linette Lai, Political Correspondent, The Straits Times, 15 May 2021

Singapore will cap social gatherings at two people and ban dining out from May 16 until June 13 in an effort to stem a worrying increase of Covid-19 clusters and unlinked cases in the community.

The stricter restrictions on social activities stop just short of a second circuit breaker, and will also see working from home become the default again for employees.

Rules on events such as weddings, congregational worship services and live performances have been tightened, while capacity limits for malls, attractions, libraries and museums have been reduced, the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 announced yesterday.

Singapore will review the new measures two weeks in, and may further tighten the rules if the situation worsens.

During last year's circuit breaker, all workplaces deemed to be providing non-essential services - including attractions, museums and most stores in malls - were shut, while schools implemented home-based learning.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday urged all Singaporeans to stay at home as far as possible and stick to safe distancing measures when going out for essential tasks. The stricter rules are necessary to stop more cases from popping up, he said.

"The new clusters and unlinked community cases in the past fortnight are very worrying," PM Lee said in a Facebook post. "We are testing more intensively, and doing our utmost to ring-fence the transmissions."

Singapore reported 52 new Covid-19 cases yesterday, 14 May, 24 of them locally transmitted. The number of unlinked cases in the community has increased to 16 cases in the past week, from nine cases in the week before.

The country currently has 11 active clusters, the largest of which originated in Changi Airport.

Infected airport staff had largely been working in a zone that received travellers from higher-risk regions, including South Asia.

Although all Changi Airport passenger terminal buildings and Jewel Changi Airport have been closed to the public since May 13, many people would have visited the airport in recent weeks, and some subsequently became infected, said Education Minister Lawrence Wong, who takes on the finance portfolio from today.

The concern is that hidden cases have leaked out into the community, he said, pointing out that unlinked cases have gone up.

"We have taken action to close the airport to the public, to ring-fence these cases," said Mr Wong, who co-chairs the task force.

But because the authorities do not know how far the transmission has gone in the community, "we do have to take further, more stringent restrictions", he said.

As part of the new rules, households will not be allowed to receive more than two distinct visitors a day, while individuals should continue to cap their social gatherings at two a day as well.

Eateries and hawker centres will offer only takeaway and delivery services to reduce the risk of transmission due to the higher risk posed by customers in close proximity, dining in for prolonged periods with their masks off, the Health Ministry said yesterday.

Employers have to ensure that staff who can work remotely do so.

To pick up Covid-19 cases more swiftly, rapid testing will now be carried out on everyone who sees a doctor with signs of an acute respiratory infection. This is on top of the slower but more accurate polymerase chain reaction tests that are already being done.

The testing regimen will be rolled out progressively, starting with about 200 Public Health Preparedness Clinics from today.

The authorities will also increase Jobs Support Scheme payouts for food and beverage companies, given the impact of the new rules on their business. In addition, it will waive one month's rental for hawker stall and coffee shop tenants of government agencies.

"We know that this is a very difficult period for everyone; this is clearly a setback in our fight against Covid-19," Mr Wong said, adding that the Government is committed to keeping Singaporeans safe and seeing the country through the crisis.

"Let's continue to stay united, support each other and do our very best, all of us; keep cases down and get through this bump together."


No comments:

Post a Comment