Phase two of Singapore's Covid-19 reopening will likely stay in place for months

People walking along Orchard Road on June 19, 2020. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Restrictions such as limiting gatherings to groups of five people or fewer will likely remain for some time despite more activities resuming under phase two of Singapore's reopening, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said yesterday.

Mr Wong told a virtual press conference that phase two, which started two weeks ago, will run for months before the next level kicks in.

"And what do 'months' mean? It's really hard to pinpoint at this stage, because we are just two weeks into phase two. It's still early days," he added.

Although the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 had earlier pointed to some rules that may be relaxed during this phase, Singapore is "not moving to any such relaxation any time soon".

"These sorts of things are unlikely to happen any time soon," said Mr Wong, who co-chairs the task force with Health Minister Gan Kim Yong. "That was the assessment earlier. It remains the same assessment today."

Large-scale events, such as concerts and conferences, will not be allowed to take place, and venues like bars and pubs have to remain closed.

Infection numbers are expected to increase as more activities resume, said the task force, which is casting a wider net around virus cases and testing more aggressively.

It does not rule out tightening some measures if case numbers rise much faster than expected or when large clusters pop up.

Mr Gan said that current numbers have "not fully reflected the effect of the opening" in this phase and cases may continue to go up in the coming weeks.

"We will continue to look at how we can confidently and safely continue our opening process and, eventually, we will reach phase three," he added.

"So we are still in the monitoring stage, and that time will come when we may announce additional relaxation, but I think it's too early for us to discuss at this point."

Attractions like Universal Studios Singapore have started reopening, with some restrictions, after nearly three months of being closed because of the circuit breaker.

Others, including the Jurong Bird Park, River Safari and Singapore Zoo, will reopen to the public next week.

The war against Covid-19 "is not yet over", said Mr Gan, urging residents to stay vigilant and not try to get around the rules.

"We want to move very carefully, very cautiously, and therefore very gradually. So please bear with us as we progressively open up bit by bit, step by step, to ensure safety for all."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2020, with the headline Phase two of Singapore's Covid-19 reopening will likely stay in place for months. Subscribe