Coronavirus: People will have to get used to new normal, says PM Lee

Singapore is set to reopen in gradual phases from June 2. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

While the circuit breaker to limit the spread of the coronavirus here has worked, Singapore cannot revert to the status quo, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

Commenting for the first time after the Government on Tuesday outlined plans for Singapore to ease circuit breaker measures, PM Lee said in a Facebook post that people have to get used to a new normal, as returning to the previous state of affairs is not possible.

He said the battle against Covid-19 is far from over. "That is why we are reopening in gradual phases, with (food and beverage) dine-ins allowed only after we are confident that community transmission will stay low," he added.

"We have seen other countries that have opened up experiencing a resurgence of cases. All it takes is a single infected person to create a new cluster."

He did not name the countries he was referring to.

However, countries such as Germany, South Korea and China have had a degree of resurgence in virus cases after they lifted some lockdown measures.

PM Lee said: "We cannot stay closed forever, so we have to get used to a new normal, adjusting our routines to live and work safely despite this global pandemic."

Singapore will embark on a month of "safe reopening" from June 2, where some businesses will be allowed to resume on-site operations and schools will reopen gradually. However, most retail stores will stay closed and there will be no dining in at restaurants.

Until a vaccine or treatment is found, people will not be able to return to what they were used to pre-coronavirus, the authorities have said.

Governments across the world are experimenting with ways to balance the restarting of their economies, the restoration of social interactions and health, and the aim of keeping community transmission low.

PM Lee has addressed the nation several times during the ongoing public health crisis.

On April 21, he gave a live address announcing that circuit breaker measures would be extended by another month to June 1 when the number of community cases seemed to be rising.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2020, with the headline Coronavirus: People will have to get used to new normal, says PM Lee. Subscribe