Many in Singapore still donning masks outdoors on first day of relaxed Covid-19 restrictions

People practising qigong in Pasir Ris Park, some without masks, on March 29, 2022. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Mr Cai Jun Jie (sixth from right) and his wedding party at Changi Beach Park for their photoshoot on March 29, 2022. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Two women walking without their masks on in Orchard Road on March 29, 2022. ST PHOTO: THADDEUS ANG
Some were maskless at Changi Beach Park on March 29, 2022. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Stall owners and patrons wearing masks at Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre on March 29, 2022. ST PHOTO: NICOLE CHEAH
Some people at Orchard Road were also maskless on March 29, 2022. ST PHOTO: THADDEUS ANG
Some office workers were seen without masks at Raffles Place MRT station on March 29, 2022. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
A cleaner working with her mask pulled down on the first day of relaxed measures on March 29, 2022. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - University student Chloe Yong, 21, was alone at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park on Tuesday morning (March 29) and, despite an easing of measures, wore a mask while outdoors.

Ms Yong, who was working on a school assignment, said she will continue to keep her mask on when outdoors as she lives with her elderly grandparents.

"I also haven't caught Covid-19 yet so I want to reduce the risk and stay safe. I don't want to catch anything if others are sick, and I also don't want to pass anything on to others if I'm sick," said Ms Yong.

It was the first day of relaxed Covid-19 rules but The Straits Times observed that about 90 per cent of the people seen across housing estates including Bukit Batok, Yishun and Tampines, as well as in parks such as Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, East Coast Park and Pasir Ris Park, were wearing masks.

Those still donning masks outdoors said they plan to keep them on as a precaution, to protect themselves and their vulnerable family members.

But there were a number of people who had their masks off in outdoor settings such as open-air walkways, Housing Board void decks and parks.

They said they appreciated the option to remove the face coverings and feel more comfortable in Singapore's humid weather.

The easing of mandatory mask-wearing outdoors was announced on March 24, along with the lifting of a number of other restrictions as Singapore moves towards a new phase of living with Covid-19.

But the Ministry of Health has encouraged people to wear their masks even when outdoors for personal protection and to protect others, especially in crowded areas.

In outdoor areas where masks are optional, about nine out of 10 people observed were wearing their masks.

More had their masks off in areas near parks, where people said the open spaces and fresh air made it easier for them to go mask-free.

Some said they will continue to keep their masks on since there is still a potential risk of being infected. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Retiree Lee Guang Yao, 80, who was sending his three-year-old granddaughter to pre-school, said that although he feels the easing of restrictions is a good thing since more will be able to socialise, he will continue donning a mask outdoors.

Mr Lee said: "We will definitely continue wearing our masks as we are already used to it. This is for our safety and our granddaughter's safety, since she is not vaccinated.

"I think only when the youngest ones are vaccinated and when cases continue to decrease to fewer than 2,000 then we will maybe stop wearing our masks."

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It was the first day of relaxed Covid-19 rules yet The Straits Times observed that a majority of people seemed happy to keep their masks on while outdoors.

Graphic designer Chua Pee Teck, 50, who was taking a walk at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, said he will continue to keep his mask on since there is still a potential risk of being infected.

"Once we are past the first week or two of the new rules and things become more stable, then I'll be more comfortable taking off my mask," he added.

Over at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Mr Eric Yeo, 49, wore a mask during his morning walk.

"I'm still worried about the virus since the positive cases are still very high. I will feel better about removing my mask when the case numbers go down."

There were more people who were maskless at Changi Beach Park and East Coast Park.

In outdoor areas where masks are optional, about nine out of 10 people observed were wearing their masks. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Retiree Rahmah Md Sharinn, 60, said she felt good about not wearing a mask outdoors and that she could breathe more easily.

"Before this I felt more restricted. The mask makes you feel a bit stuffy."

She said she is less worried about Covid-19 since case numbers have been decreasing and most here are vaccinated.

"There's no more fear, previously everyone was so scared. Now I feel it's somewhat under control.

"And of course we know that new variants will come out, so you still have to be very careful in crowded places," said Ms Rahmah.

Mr Cai Jun Jie, 32, who was at Changi Beach Park, was glad the loosening of restrictions fell on the day he was having his pre-wedding photoshoot.

Mr Cai Jun Jie at Changi Beach Park for his pre-wedding photoshoot on March 29, 2022. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

"We actually planned for this shoot a while ago, and it so happens that we are lucky that the first day of the lifted measures coincides with it," said the nurse who had eight groomsmen and bridesmaids with him, all without masks.

"The timing is just nice for all of us to come together without needing to wear masks here."

With the easing, he said he would not wear his mask outdoors: "I feel liberated."

  • Additional reporting by Bryan Cheong, Beatrice Teh, Deon Loke, Kolette Lim, Lok Bing Hong, Nicole Cheah and Varun Karthik Seetharaman 

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