Covid-19 circuit breaker measures: What you can and cannot do till May 4

Life in Singapore has hit something of a standstill since Tuesday, for four weeks till May 4. Singapore has put in place its most serious 'circuit breaker' yet, to pre-empt escalating coronavirus infections. So what can, and can't, you do for the next one month?

Singaporeans - from celebrities to front-line workers - are making this plea: #StayHome and help stop the spread of the coronavirus.    
Doctors and nurses are imploring you to #StayHome to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Here's why.
Public pools, such as those at the 26 SportSG swimming complexes, will be closed.
Public pools, such as those at the 26 SportSG swimming complexes, will be closed.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

IF I NEED TO... SEND MY CHILDREN TO SCHOOL 

• All schools and institutes of higher learning have moved to full home-based learning till at least May 4. This means students will log in from home and be taught remotely by their teachers.

... OR ENRICHMENT CLASSES 

• Face-to-face tuition, music lessons, dance classes, sports training and other such activities will all be put on hold.


If I want to... eat out


Sorry, dining out is no longer an option. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES

• Sorry, dining out is no longer an option.

• While food and beverage outlets will remain open, they can do only takeaway and delivery. In fact, you cannot even eat or drink while waiting for your food to be prepared.

• F&B outlets include restaurants, hawker centres, coffee shops and foodcourts. They also include any outlet that has a food licence. This means cupcake shops, coffee chain outlets, bak kwa franchises and bubble tea chains will stay open - but only for takeaway.


If I want to... order food in



Food delivery services are big now, so you might want to download their apps. PHOTO: ST FILE

• Food delivery services are big now, so you might want to download their apps. The big boys are Foodpanda, Deliveroo and GrabFood.

• Smaller eateries, hawker stalls and cafes that currently do not offer food on delivery are advised to sign up for a scheme by Enterprise Singapore that will help to lower costs of using online food delivery platforms.


If I need to... go to work

Work from home if you can, but if you are an essential services worker and must go to work, follow your office's safe distancing guidelines.
Work from home if you can, but if you are an essential services worker and must go to work, follow your office's safe distancing guidelines. ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR

• Businesses that can run with employees working from home via telecommuting should continue. But if they can’t, they must be closed.

• The exception is for businesses that provide essential services. These companies must ensure there are safe distancing measures in place. These include cutting down on physical meetings, staggering working hours and making sure you sit at least 1m away from your colleagues.


If I need to... see a doctor

• All public and private hospitals remain open, as do all general practitioner clinics, polyclinics, offsite specialist clinics and community hospitals.

• Dialysis services and other renal replacement services will also be open.

• But if you are planning to get your Botox fix or do your annual health screening, you will have to wait. The Health Ministry classifies these as non-essential services.

• Aesthetics services, outpatient rehabilitation therapy, cataract surgery for stable cataract conditions and traditional Chinese medicine treatments such as acupuncture will not be available.

 

• Senior befriending and counselling services should be offered remotely.

• You can continue to save lives during the outbreak. Blood donation services remain open.


If I need to... buy groceries



Supermarkets, wholesale and wet markets, and provision shops will stay open. But do keep a safe distance from others when shopping. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

• Wholesale markets, wet markets, supermarkets and provision shop are still open. 

• The food supply chain - including food being flown in, the manufacture of food, as well as abattoirs - is still operating. There is no need to hoard food.

• But when you go shopping, you must keep a safe distance from others. Follow the markings on the floor, including at wet markets. Some supermarkets, such as NTUC FairPrice, have introduced crowd control measures.

• As it is easy for crowds to form at wet markets, the National Environment Agency (NEA) has these guidelines: Go just once a week; visit the market on weekdays if possible; if you must go on the weekend, make an effort to wake up early to avoid the peak period from 7.30am to 10am.

• Vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, should avoid visiting the markets altogether. Other members of the household or neighbours should help them with the shopping.

• You can also order online. Taxi and private-hire car drivers have been roped in to deliver groceries.


If I want to... visit my elderly parents to help them with their daily needs

• While social gatherings aren't allowed, you can still drop by the home of your elderly parents to help them with their daily needs.

• But you must reduce the amount and frequency of interaction and observe strict personal hygiene.

• Visit them only when necessary. 


If I want to... let my elderly parents take care of my children on a daily basis

• This is allowed only if you leave your children with your parents throughout the entire circuit breaker period.

• The reason is this: each time you bring your child over, you are exposing your parents to potential infection, and this will happen again and again. Please keep the elderly safe.

• Some couples may have trouble with this arrangement, especially those who are essential service workers. These parents can turn to childcare services for essential service workers. 


If I need to... send my children to pre-school



Pre-schools will be closed, but parents working in essential services can get help in looking after their children.  ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

• Pre-schools will be closed. But parents/guardians who are working in essential services and are unable to find alternative care arrangements will get help in looking after their children. Priority will be given to children of healthcare workers as well as those of low-wage or daily-wage workers employed in essential services.

 

• In addition, selected care services for students such as those in student care centres and special education schools will be open. Parents should approach their child's pre-school or school for help.


If I am going to... graduate

• Sorry, but if you are a polytechnic or Institute of Technical Education student, there will be no ceremonies for this year’s graduating cohort. But arrangements will be made for diplomas, certificates and transcripts to be delivered to you.


If I need to... move around

• For those who drive, some good news: Electronic Road Pricing charges at all gantries have ceased from April 6 till May 4. Petrol stations will operate as usual.

 

• You can still travel by taxi or private-hire car - no change there.

• Public buses and the MRT will also function as normal.


If I want to... bid for a Certificate of Entitlement

• COE bidding exercises are suspended. Updates on bidding exercises beyond this month will be provided.


If I want to... visit relatives or friends

• All social gatherings with friends and family members not within the same household must stop during this period.

• Try not to move from place to place. Reside in one place for now.

• If your parents are looking after your children, you should leave the kids with them for the entire circuit breaker period.

• You can still keep in touch with family members and friends through video calls or phone calls.

• It is especially important for seniors to stay at home. Singing, dancing and exercise classes at community centres have been suspended, but seniors can keep busy with online programmes.


If I need to... visit someone in hospital

• Visitors are not allowed, except in certain circumstances.


If I need to... visit a place of worship


All places of worship will be closed. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

• All places of worship will be closed. Earlier, services were suspended but they could stay open for private worship for not more than 10 people at any one time.

• Where necessary, places of worship may continue to conduct funeral rites, but should involve no more than 10 people at any one time.


If I need to... attend a funeral

• Funeral-related services will continue, with safe distancing measures.

• All government-managed columbaria will be closed from Tuesday to May 4. Installation of urns into niches may continue, with a permit. Choa Chu Kang Cemetery will remain open for burials, and Mandai Crematorium will remain open for cremation services.


If I need to... withdraw money

• Banking services will be available through online channels, ATMs and bank branches, as will services like insurance broking.

• But check before you visit a bank. Some branches will be shut or may have changed their opening hours.


If I want to... exercise

• All sports stadiums are closed, as are public swimming pools, public sports halls as well as private gyms and fitness studios.

• Country clubs are closed, and Singapore's 15 golf courses are out of bounds. 

• Hotels have shut their recreational facilities.

• If you live in a condominium, swimming pools and gyms there are out of bounds.

• Bowling centres and billiard halls, which had already stopped operating since last month, will remain shut.

• If you want to exercise, find an uncrowded space around your neighbourhood and practise safe distancing from other people.

• Public parks remain open but you should only go there alone or with individuals living in the same household. Again, practise safe distancing and go straight home after your walk or run. Don't meet up with friends there or linger. To give you an idea of how crowded a park is before heading out, check the National Parks Board's (NParks) map.

• NParks has also suspended bookings for events, barbecue pits and camping permits in parks.

• Neighbourhood playgrounds, fitness corners and dog runs in parks are also closed.

• There is always the option of working out at home by logging on to fitness classes online.


If I want to... go shopping



Retail therapy will have to wait. Only stores supporting the provision of essential services can stay open.  ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

• Retail therapy can wait, right? In any case, big stores such as Takashimaya and Ikea, as well as boutiques and retail outlets, including chains like Uniqlo and Zara, will be shut.


If I need to... take my pet to the vet



People can still take their pets out to parks for runs, and there is no need to hoard food for them as pet supplies stores will remain open. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

• Veterinary services will be open to provide emergency and non-elective services, including hospitalisation of your pets.

• There is also no need to hoard pet food. Pet supplies stores will be open.

• Do note that you should not be sending your pets for grooming. But you can take them out to parks for runs.


If I want to... take my children out



Resorts World Sentosa will suspend its casino, Universal Studios Singapore, S.E.A. Aquarium, Adventure Cove Waterpark and Dolphin Island from tomorrow. It also will not take in new guests.  ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

• Please don't.

• In any case, all museums and attractions such as the Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and the Science Centre Singapore will be closed.

 

• Curious minds can continue to explore the digital platforms of these attractions. Find them on their Facebook and Instagram accounts.

• Singapore's two integrated resorts will also be shut, to varying degrees.

• Marina Bay Sands' website says it will close the hotel, all attractions, including the ArtScience Museum, The Shoppes, food and beverage outlets, and the casino from Tuesday to May 4.

• Resorts World Sentosa will suspend its casino, Universal Studios Singapore, S.E.A. Aquarium, Adventure Cove Waterpark and Dolphin Island from tomorrow. It also will not take in new guests. But some eateries will remain open for take-away and deliveries. These include Malaysian Food Street, Pizzeria, Osia Steak and Seafood Grill, and Feng Shui Inn.


If I want to... get a haircut or facial

• Hair salons and barber services will be open but only to provide simple haircuts, including a quick blow and dry. This means no perming and colouring, which can take hours.

• Outlets that provide services such as facials, beauty treatments, as well as nail salons, will be shut.


If I want to... buy or borrow a book

• Bookstores will be closed.

• So, too, will all 25 public libraries from Tuesday till May 4. All on-site services, including book drops and reservation lockers, will be unavailable as well. Good news, though: If you have already borrowed a book, loan expiry dates will be extended until three weeks after the library reopens. No overdue fines will be imposed. The library's digital services will also remain available on its website and app. This means you can continue to borrow e-books and audio books.


If I want to... gamble

• The two casinos will be closed.

• Singapore Pools is also suspending all lottery draws and shutting its outlets from Tuesday until further notice.

• The Singapore Turf Club, which manages horse racing and betting, will suspend race meetings from Tuesday.

• But 4D lottery draws today will continue as planned. You can collect your prize payments until tomorrow. The prize claim period will be extended and more information on this will be provided later.


If I need to... repair stuff

• Services that provide the repair of consumer electronics and household appliances will continue.

• Hardware stores selling building and maintenance-related equipment and tools will be open.

• Optician services and the sale of optical products will also be available.


If I want to... go on a staycation

• You can't. Hotels are not allowed to accept new guests during this period.

• Selected hotels - as well as serviced apartments, dormitories and hostels - will continue to be open to house those returning to Singapore who have to be on stay-home notice. But even in these hotels, all recreation facilities will be shut, and food and beverage facilities can offer only takeaway or delivery services.


If I want to... go online

• Telcos will continue to operate.

• You will still get your mobile and Internet access and can also watch TV and listen to the radio. The Sunday Times understands that telcos' outlets will remain open.


If I want to... send a letter



Postal services and mail delivery are among operations that will continue over the next four weeks.  ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

• No change to postal services and mail - and newspaper - delivery.


If I need to... dump trash

• Waste collection and disposal services will continue.


If I need... help for the anxiety I'm feeling

• If you are facing stress – whether over finances or marital and family tensions – you can soon turn to the National Care hotline. Trained officers can link you with social service agencies and specialised services.

•While this is being set up, please check out www.cphonlinecounselling.sg for counselling help relating to marriage, family and divorce issues. It's free.


If I need to... move house

• You can go ahead. Companies like those providing moving services can continue operations.


If I need... help to clean my house

• You will have to do the cleaning yourself. Home-cleaning services, including freelance and part-time cleaners, are not permitted to continue.


If I need... to have my furniture and computer delivered

• While physical stores must be closed, they can fulfil online orders , still can come and deliver and set up - but they must comply with stringent hygiene and safe distancing practices and leave the premises once the job is completed.

• Delivery and installation services can continue but the people doing this must comply with health and safe distancing advisories. These include wearing masks at all times, minimising contact and interactions with others throughout and complying with the 1m safe distancing measure.

• If items require on-site installation, those doing it must adhere to these guidelines and leave the premises once the job is completed. 

• The number of staff involved should be kept to a minimum.


If I need to....repair my car



The Ministry of Trade and Industry said routine servicing and cosmetic-related works are not allowed during this period. PHOTO: ST FILE

• Routine servicing and minor works are out. But if your vehicle breaks down or is in an accident, towing, recovery and repair work continues.

 

• By the way, if your car is due for its inspection, this has been suspended for now, says the Land Transport Authority.


 

If I want to... chill outside

• So can you play basketball, football or tennis in your HDB or condominium courts? Or perhaps windsurf, fly a kite, go fishing or even skateboarding? The answer is no to everything. HDB and condominium courts are closed during this period.

• Windsurfing, kite-flying, fishing and skateboarding (unless done as a form of commute) are otherwise considered recreational activities that are not allowed. The reason: they might attract like-minded participants resulting in the congregation of people from different households - and all this raises transmission risks.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 05, 2020, with the headline 'A new normal'. Subscribe