SINGAPORE - Singaporeans welcomed the move towards the next phase of reopening, while remaining realistic that measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 such as the wearing of masks and travel restrictions would not be lifted any time soon.
In a televised national address on Monday (Dec 14), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said phase 3, to begin on Dec 28, would raise the permitted group size for social gatherings from five to eight, and capacity limits in public places such as malls, attractions and places of worship.
Groups and workplaces that operate in teams said this would mark a return to some normality.
Senior marketing executive Angele Chan, 25, an avid dancer, said organising dance rehearsals in phase 2 was challenging, with limits on the number of people in one session.
"I'm cautiously excited - excited to hang out in bigger groups but cautious because we're moving into the festive season and the chance of Covid-19 cases spiking is definitely there," she said.
Ms Vivien Lai, 58, who works as a supervisor in an initiative to help individuals adopt digital skills, said the limits in phase 3 would work well for her team.
"Life in phase 2 has been very challenging especially when it comes to organising team lunch and dinner. We have to split into two groups.
"Phase 3 allowing us to meet in groups of eight is welcome news for my team as we have eight in a team. Come next year we can have team activities outside the office and look forward to travelling at the end of the year," she added.
But though finance industry executive Sarthak Shreya, 27, welcomed the further easing, he said people should continue observing safety measures during the festive period to prevent a possible spike in cases.
"Moving into the next phase is a welcome move, but I am worried that people may congregate during events like New Year's Eve. I hope everyone takes the government's advice seriously about wearing masks and social distancing. For myself, I plan to stay in on New Year's and will restrict my visits to just family members," he said.
President of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) Roland Ng said that the SCCCI supports the Government's decision to move into phase 3 of reopening.
In a statement to The Straits Times, Mr Ng said: "Currently, many countries and regions are actively taking measures to deal with the recurring waves of infections and developing vaccination plans. Singapore is an open economy, and the top priorities of the Government when dealing with current situation will be on three major aspects: the global situation, economic recovery, and public healthcare.
"Companies should continue to adapt to the changing environment, emphasise their effort in three main areas: enhancing enterprise capability; strengthening collaboration in overseas markets; and leveraging new opportunities of Singapore-China co-operation, in order to seize business opportunities as the country gradually moves towards re-opening."