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Singapore set to shop and dine as most activities resume Friday

The move comes as Covid cases in Singapore's heavily-impacted foreign worker dormitories have dropped and community infection rates have remained stable.

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Singapore: Singaporeans will be able to shop and eat at restaurants from Friday, though they’ll have to wait for bars to reopen and concerts to happen. The country will further relax restrictive measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus this week, with the government assessing the situation in the city-state to be under control.

After June 18 at 11:59 p.m., most activities will be allowed to resume subject to safe distancing principles, according to a press release from the Ministry of Health on Monday. Small social gatherings of up to five people can take place, while individuals must maintain a distance of at least one meter at all times.

The move to enter the second phase of a three-phased easing of lockdown measures, put in place in early April, comes amid improved conditions in Singapore. The number of cases in heavily-impacted foreign worker dormitories has dropped and community infection rates have remained stable, while there are no new large clusters emerging.

The benchmark Straits Times Index rose as much as 2.9% on Tuesday, snapping three days of losses, as investors cheered the re-opening of the economy. Similarly, the FTSE Straits Times Real Estate Investment Trust Index gained as much as 3.6%, the most in more than two weeks.

“Do not treat Phase Two as a signal that we can all relax,” Minister of National Development Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the virus task force, said at a briefing on Monday. “I think if we were to take that kind of mindset, attitude, it will be very easy for Phase Two to end up with a surge in cases.”

Here are details of some of the activities allowed to resume:

  • Retail businesses may re-open their physical outlets
  • Food and beverage dine-in will be allowed to resume, subject to liquor sales and consumption ceasing at 10:30 p.m.
  • Larger public venues with high human traffic such as malls and large standalone retail outlets will be subject to capacity limits
  • Personal health and wellness, and home-based services will be allowed to resume
  • Tuition and other private enrichment classes can resume, with the exception of singing or voice training classes
  • Sports, parks and other public facilities will also open

Even though the vast majority of activities will be allowed to resume at the start of Phase Two, the resumption of a small number of activities will take more time. This includes religious services, large cultural venues like libraries and museums, big-scale events like conferences and concerts as well as entertainment venues like bars and nightclubs.

There have been instances of individuals and business operators flouting rules during the lockdown, resulting in several being hauled to court and charged.

On people potentially trying to circumvent social distancing measures, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said: “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.”


Also read: The way people work in Singapore won’t be the same again


Work-Pass Holders

Authorities will also allow more long-term pass holders, including expatriates on employment passes, to return. That’s because the government has ensured that the testing and health care capacity can cope with the number of returnees, Wong said. He was unable to provide a number of these returnees or the number of appeals made to return to Singapore.

As Singapore reopens to more international travel, all inbound and outbound travelers arriving in the country from June 17 11:59 p.m will have to undergo mandatory testing, which they have to pay for. Previously, the costs were borne by the government.

All travelers entering Singapore from this time, and who had remained in Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Hong Kong, Japan, Macao, China, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam in the last consecutive 14 days prior to their entry, will no longer have to be quarantined in dedicated facilities.

All other travelers entering Singapore will continue to serve their two-week quarantine at dedicated facilities for now, and non-residents will have to pay for their stay. The payments for testing and quarantine, expected to be up to S$200 ($144) and S$2,000 respectively, are part of the cost of travel in a Covid-19 world, according to the health ministry.

Economic Toll

After being praised by international health experts for its initial response to the virus in the early months of the pandemic, the city-state — like many countries — was blindsided by Covid-19’s level of contagion. An outbreak among migrant workers living in crammed dormitories saw Singapore become one of the most infected countries in Asia, with more than 40,000 recorded total coronavirus cases.

The lockdown measures and cautious reopening at home and abroad have exerted a heavy toll on the trade-reliant economy. Several major events have had to be canceled, chief among them the Formula One night race in the city-state normally held in September.

Singapore is now forecasting a full-year economic contraction of as much as 7%, which would mark the worst downturn for the country since its independence.- Bloomberg


Also read: Coronavirus has made our cities less appealing. But moving out is easier said than done


 

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