Phase two starts on Friday: Shops can reopen, dining in allowed

Ministers say safe distancing, personal responsibility critical as most activities are allowed to resume

Singapore moves to phase two of its reopening this Friday (June 19), as a range of restrictions will be eased to allow more business and social activities to resume, the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 announced on Monday (June 15).
Cleaners removing tape that prevented people from sitting at the tables at Lau Pa Sat yesterday. From Friday, besides dining in at eateries, people can also get together socially in groups of up to five. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Cleaners removing tape that prevented people from sitting at the tables at Lau Pa Sat yesterday. From Friday, besides dining in at eateries, people can also get together socially in groups of up to five. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Singapore will embark on phase two of reopening its economy on Friday, having managed to keep infections in check in the two weeks since the end of the circuit breaker period.

A range of restrictions will be eased to allow more business and social activities to resume. People can also get together socially in groups of up to five, and households can receive up to five visitors at any one time.

But individuals will still have to keep a safe distance of at least 1m from others, where feasible.

"In phase one, the default setting was that many things remained closed and we only selectively allowed certain (sectors) to resume activities in order to manage the risk... (For) phase two, the default will be that most activities will resume and open," National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19, said at a virtual media conference.

His co-chair, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, said the decision to resume activities was taken as the number of community cases in Singapore was stable and cases in migrant worker dormitories remained under control.

Singapore reported 214 new cases yesterday, the lowest daily count in about two months, none of whom are Singaporeans or permanent residents.

But a "delicate balance" must be struck in order to keep the Covid-19 situation under control, cautioned Mr Gan. Further reopening must be done safely and responsibly, with capacity limits in place.

From Friday, dining in, personal wellness services such as massages and spas, as well as home-based services like private tuition can resume, except for singing or voice training classes.

Retail shops, park facilities, beaches, and sports and other public facilities, including stadiums, swimming pools, playgrounds and fitness studios, can also reopen, as can similar facilities in condominiums.

All healthcare services, including community eldercare services, will resume, and visits to nursing homes will be allowed again.

But masks will remain a must when people leave their homes.

 
 
 
 

YOU CANNOT FOOL THE VIRUS

I am sure even as we draw up the rules, people will be thinking how to get around the rules... But I must say that you can fool the rules, but you cannot fool the virus. If you violate the rules, the virus will get to you. The purpose and objective of the rules and regulations is to protect you, and not just to penalise you.

HEALTH MINISTER GAN KIM YONG, on the need to exercise personal responsibility in phase two.

Singapore will also ease some travel restrictions.

Singapore residents and long-term pass holders entering Singapore from selected countries, including Australia, mainland China and South Korea, may serve their stay-home notices at home, instead of at dedicated facilities, from Thursday. But they will be subject to a compulsory Covid-19 test towards the end of their stay-home notice, for which they must pay.

Higher-risk activities, including religious services and congregations, conferences and concerts, will not yet be allowed, as over-seas and local examples have shown that such settings can spawn large clusters of infections, said Mr Wong.

"These are your super spreader events, if you will," he said.

Karaoke outlets, bars, cinemas as well as libraries, museums and other large cultural and entertainment venues will also not be allowed to reopen yet.

The authorities will continue to engage these establishments on safety measures needed, said Mr Wong. "We will be able to allow these to resume (activity) progressively over time, but not at the start of phase two," he added.

Precautions still have to be taken.

Seniors, a vulnerable group, should continue to stay home as much as they can.

Venues with high human traffic such as malls and large retail outlets will be subject to capacity limits, and operators must prevent crowds or long queues from building up, said the Ministry of Health.

There will still be "very tight enforcement" on the ground, said Mr Wong, with officers fanning out to new settings like restaurants.

Employees should not mix socially, and working from home should remain the default option.

From June 29, schools will also reopen fully, with students returning to school daily.

But Singaporeans must remain vigilant even as the country removes more restrictions, said Mr Gan. Community cases may rise as activities resume and testing efforts are stepped up.

"To keep the number of new cases under control and prevent large clusters, it is critical that we continue to remain vigilant... This way, our efforts over the last two months will not be wasted and we can safely move towards phase three."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2020, with the headline 'Phase two starts on Friday: Shops can reopen, dining in allowed'. Subscribe