SINGAPORE - Tighter measures introduced ahead of Chinese New Year to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in the community will remain in place until a few weeks after the festivities.
Education Minister Lawrence Wong, who is co-chair of the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19, said on Friday (Feb 19) that the Covid-19 situation has improved but cautioned against easing measures.
Noting that the virus has an "incubation time", he said: "We will monitor one, two, a few weeks after the New Year celebrations and festivities are over.
"If the situation remains stable and under control, we will review and we will consider the measures again and see whether or not there is scope for us to adjust."
He was speaking to reporters during a visit to a Covid-19 vaccination centre at Jalan Besar Community Club.
Some of the additional measures introduced last month include a cap of eight unique visitors per household per day. Individuals were also reminded to wear masks at all times when outside the home, including when visiting someone else's home.
Enforcement checks have been stepped up during this period, with strict action taken against individuals and business operators that breach safe management measures.
Mr Wong noted on Friday that restrictions had to be tightened after the Christmas and New Year break as the number of community cases rose.
In the third week of January, for instance, there were 21 new cases in the community, up from three the week before.
"We were concerned and therefore, we had tightened up the measures. Since then, the situation has improved, but it's too early to say what happens," said Mr Wong.
Events which were postponed earlier due to an increasing number of coronavirus cases in the community, such as the National School Games (NSG), may be reviewed to see when they can be held.
The NSG, which usually sees about 60,000 student-athletes competing across 29 sports, had been scheduled to begin this month.
Thanking Singaporeans for their cooperation, Mr Wong said: "By all accounts, when I meet people and ask them, everyone has had a much quieter, subdued New Year and they understand the rationale for doing this."
He added that with the cooperation of Singaporeans, he was hopeful the Republic will not have a spike in cases after the Chinese New Year period.
On Feb 2, The Straits Times reported that hundreds of shoppers thronged the wet market at Chinatown Complex to stock up on steamboat ingredients before Chinese New Year.
A new coronavirus cluster later emerged after the owner of a sundry shop at Chinatown Complex was confirmed to have Covid-19 on Feb 10. Currently, the cluster has four cases linked to it , with the wife and two sons of the Chinatown Complex stall owner testing positive too.
Long queues also formed outside popular bak kwa chain Lim Chee Guan's Chinatown and Jewel Changi Airport outlets on Feb 9, as shoppers rushed to buy their barbecued meats before the start of the new year.
Crowds were also seen at Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple in Waterloo Street on Monday as thousands of devotees queued to enter the temple to seek blessings for Chinese New Year.
Said Mr Wong on Friday: "We ramp up the vaccine programme, we continue with all the safe distancing measures that are necessary, and I think we can get through this New Year in a much better position than before."