Coronavirus: Tightened circuit breaker measures to stay for another week

Some businesses can reopen from May 12, and some students can go to school from May 19

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong (left) highlighted that seniors remain a serious concern, while National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said it is not "time to slacken and let our guard down". PHOTOS: MCI

The stiffer circuit breaker measures, which were meant to be in place until May 4, have been extended by a week, as Singapore has not brought the number of coronavirus infections in the community consistently down to single digits.

But as the spread of the virus in the local community has slowed down, some measures will be tweaked gradually to allow selected businesses to open again in the coming weeks.

"We are making good progress but we are not yet at single digits when it comes to local transmission, so it is not time to lift the tighter measures we have in place," said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong yesterday.

"We still need to continue for another week. But we can start making some adjustments."

Adding that it is not "time to slacken and let our guard down", he said: "We have to do this cautiously and gradually. And... we need everyone to cooperate, so that we can open up the economy and resume normal activities safely without causing further clusters to form."

Most enhanced measures, such as going out only when necessary, and even then alone, will remain in place until June 1, pending another review. But from Tuesday, traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture treatment will be allowed, with its medicine halls able to sell retail products.

Those living in condominiums can also exercise within their estate, although facilities like swimming pools and gyms have to remain closed.

On May 12, some businesses will be allowed to restart their operations, provided they have put in place measures to ensure safe distancing on their premises.

Also, hairdressers can resume giving basic haircuts, while pet supplies, and optical and cake shops are among the businesses allowed to reopen, but after having put in place a contact-tracing system for customers using the SafeEntry app.

Mr Wong said businesses allowed to reopen on May 12 will for the most part be those that had to close under the tightened measures from April 21. "So, for companies that had not been allowed to operate at the start of the circuit breaker, we do not expect a lot of them to be able to resume," he added.

Schools will also begin to bring back students in small groups for face-to-face lessons from May 19, with the focus on graduating cohorts taking national exams. Priority will go to those who need school facilities for coursework or need support during the holidays.

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Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said yesterday that with the average number of new Covid-19 cases in the community dropping to 12 a day in the past week, from 23 a day in the week before, restrictions on businesses can be lifted gradually.

There were 447 new cases yesterday - the ninth straight day with numbers below the 1,000 mark. Most of the new cases were linked to foreign worker dormitories and six involved community infections. But a 76-year-old Singaporean man has died, bringing the number of fatalities here from the virus to 17.

Mr Gan highlighted that seniors remain a serious concern, and urged them to stay indoors and not meet family members they do not live with.

"We know it is very difficult. We naturally want to go out to have sunlight, to meet our friends, to socialise and to even have interaction with our family members," said Mr Gan.

"But I would encourage you to continue to stay at home because this is for your own protection."

Yesterday, it was also announced that residents and staff in all homes serving the elderly, including nursing homes, will be given priority in testing for the virus. Staff will also be required to stay on-site.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 03, 2020, with the headline Coronavirus: Tightened circuit breaker measures to stay for another week. Subscribe