Coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus: Life as normal in a pandemic is more than just obeying guidelines, says Lawrence Wong

Just stay home as much as possible, minimise social contact, says task force co-chair

Crowds were thin at Gardens by the Bay at the weekend as Singaporeans practised social distancing.
Crowds were thin at Gardens by the Bay at the weekend as Singaporeans practised social distancing.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The official recommendation is that no more than 10 people should gather at a time. But that does not mean it is fine for nine friends to meet up.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said: "This is not the point, right? It is not about, oh, let's just find a group that is about nine, maybe 10 is just nice, and we just comply with the guidelines.

"The question is, do you need to? Particularly during this time when we say we really want to reduce interactions with people in order to slow down the virus.

"So, during this time, life as normal should mean stay at home as much as possible - as simple as that."

Mr Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 with Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, said life as normal with a pandemic raging means "minimising contact with friends outside of your immediate family".

"Not even lunches or dinners, even if it meets the requirement of less than 10," he said.

Yes, people can still go out to buy essentials, or even to a food court or hawker centre to buy food.

In fact, Mr Wong admits that he does that too.

"I do go out to da bao (take away) food. I walk out from my home, and I will go to the food court nearby. I will go to a hawker centre, and I will buy food back," he said.

Going out, getting something, then going home is not going to increase viral transmission.

"But where it comes to activities with others, I would say keep it to a minimum, and then stay at home as much as possible," he said.

He urged everyone to be socially responsible with safe distancing, and to wash their hands regularly.

"If you look at how the virus spreads so quickly, you need only one event to be a super-spreader event that can cause a large uncontrollable outbreak, and then it starts to accelerate.


"When it accelerates and it is out of control, it overwhelms your hospital system, and then you start to see rising mortality rates, particularly amongst the more vulnerable groups."

Distancing measures can slow the spread of the virus but if people do not comply, then this "nightmare scenario" may come about.

"The fight against Covid-19 is not something that the Government alone can do," he said. "Every Singaporean has to be enlisted in this fight against the virus. It is so critical that we take this seriously."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2020, with the headline 'Life as normal in a pandemic is more than just obeying guidelines'. Subscribe