Why differentiated Covid-19 measures for vaccinated people in Singapore are on hold

ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Differentiated safe management measures for vaccinated and unvaccinated people will be put on hold during the phase two (heightened alert) period from Thursday (July 22) till Aug 18.

Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong, who co-chairs the task force tackling Covid-19, said during a virtual press conference on Tuesday the authorities would consider reintroducing the differentiated measures once Singapore hits higher vaccination rates, or when the Covid-19 situation stabilises.

"In time to come, as we progressively open up our economy and our community, we will introduce a differentiated approach.

"For those who are vaccinated, they will then be allowed to do a lot more activities because they're protected," Mr Gan said.

He added that this could mean additional precautions for unvaccinated seniors, including those who are not eligible for vaccination due to medical reasons. Unvaccinated people may not be able to participate in activities that carry a higher risk, Mr Gan said.

The minister explained that the differentiated approach was previously adopted when the Covid-19 situation was under control.

But the rising number of cases in recent weeks reflects a significant level of transmission in the community.

While vaccinated individuals are protected from severe illness, they can still get infected and pass on the virus to others, including vulnerable seniors, Mr Gan said.

Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said continuing with the differentiated measures would likely have caused cases to continue to rise sharply.

"There will be many unvaccinated persons who catch the virus and who will fall sick subsequently, especially amongst the seniors, and that's why we decided that it is better to not continue with that vaccine-differentiated strategy," he said.

Mr Wong added that the strategy now is to scale back activities temporarily and slow transmission in order to buy time.

"After we have gone through this period for the next few weeks, we will review and continue to look at the situation.

"And at some point in time, once the situation has stabilised, we do intend fully to continue with this strategy of vaccine differentiation where those who are fully vaccinated will be able to engage in more activities."