Retightening of measures a step back, but Covid-19 is a 'formidable foe': PM Lee

Dining in will not be allowed during Singapore's return to phase two (heightened alert).
Dining in will not be allowed during Singapore's return to phase two (heightened alert).PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Going back to more stringent Covid-19 curbs will help to slow the spread of infections, and avert the prospect of multiple sub-clusters emerging around each market and food centre, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday (July 20).

The retightening will also buy time to get more people fully vaccinated, especially seniors who are not yet vaccinated and are most at risk, he added in a Facebook post.

"We are all disappointed by this step back, but Covid-19 is a formidable foe. We have to feel our way forward, and be prepared for setbacks along the way," he said.

The multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 announced in a virtual press conference on Tuesday that Singapore will return to phase two (heightened alert).

Among other measures, dining in will not be allowed during this period, along with indoor mask-off activities and classes at gyms and fitness studios.

The measures come after a spike in community Covid-19 cases was linked to a cluster at Jurong Fishery Port, which has spread to 28 markets and food centres, with numbers still rising, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung. The cluster is also linked to a large one that has spread among KTV lounges.

PM Lee said it was unfortunate that the KTV and Jurong Fishery Port clusters have spread to many markets and food centres.

That is why the task force announced the return to phase two (heightened alert) from July 22 to Aug 18, with dining in to cease again and group sizes limited to two, he said.

"This retightening will help slow the spread of cases. We hope to avoid multiple sub-clusters breaking out around each market and food centre, like what happened around the Bukit Merah View Market."

PM Lee added that good progress has been made in vaccination. "Three-quarters of us have had at least our first jab, while half have completed both jabs. We are much safer now than six months ago," he said. 

"In four weeks' time, if all goes well, our vaccination coverage should be much higher, and we should be able to relax the measures. We are not quite in the new normal yet, but steadily getting there."

On Tuesday, PM Lee visited places in Teck Ghee and Cheng San where residents could get antigen rapid test kits. He said regular testing is a key strategy in the Covid-19 battle.

The Ministry of Health said on Monday that it would be working with the People's Association to distribute the self-test kits to people who had visited selected markets and food centres in the last 14 days.

The collection runs until Wednesday at residents' committee centres in the vicinity of four market and food centres, including in Haig Road and Geylang Serai.

Read next: What you need to know about Singapore's Covid-19 rules from July 22