Forum: Consider the trade-offs during times of restrictions

As one of the wealthiest nations in the world, Singapore was able to buy vaccines early in the Covid-19 pandemic battle and achieve one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.

Despite that, there are more restrictions in Singapore than in countries with similar vaccination rates.

The stabilisation phase has been a lot harder psychologically because vaccinations were seen as the way to return to normality.

Yet there were more restrictions after vaccines were rolled out, compared with before vaccines were rolled out.

Furthermore, all of these restrictions are happening against the backdrop of Singapore reopening its borders to other countries through the Vaccinated Travel Lanes.

Even though diners have to provide proof of vaccination to dine-in at eateries, only a maximum of two people a table are allowed.

Because of such restrictions, many dining establishments have closed down.

There are concerns over mental health as well, as the restrictions have reduced social contact.

A total of 452 suicides were reported in Singapore last year, the highest figure since 2012. The Samaritans of Singapore also noted that many seniors struggled with handling loneliness during the pandemic.

For someone who is vaccinated, the risk to one's mental health will be of more concern than the risk of being seriously ill with Covid-19.

According to data provided by the Ministry of Health, those who are unvaccinated are more likely to be seriously unwell than those who are fully vaccinated. 

Due to the asymmetry in risk, the Government should consider further measures that reduce the risk of those who are unvaccinated.

These should not be done at the expense of those who are vaccinated, who make up a majority of the population, and whose risks are reduced due to vaccination.

It is time to consider what Singaporeans are sacrificing while putting up with these restrictions, and whether these restrictions are reasonable and tenable.

Anderson Tong