In an address held by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on April 3 at 4pm, he announced that Singapore is imposing stricter measures to act as "circuit breakers" to reduce the spread of Covid-19. This includes closing non-essential physical workplaces, introducing home-based learning in schools and going out only to purchase groceries and takeaway or essential services. These measures are expected to last till the end of the month and will then be reviewed and possibly scaled back or extended.
Here's a quick recap of the new measures announced:
1. Workplaces, except those proving essential services and in key economic sectors, must close from Tuesday, April 7
Food establishments like restaurants and hawker centres, markets and supermarkets, clinics, hospitals, utilities, transport and banks remain open. This means that you don't need to stock up on items like toilet paper for weeks at a time. People are advised to change habits and do their marketing and shopping during off-peak hours in order to avoid crowds.
All attractions like museums, gyms, casinos and themed parks will be closed.
2. Eat at home: restaurants and hawker centres only open for takeout
We can no longer dine in or hang around with friends. People are encouraged to get takeout and eat at home with family. This will of course impact food and beverage businesses tremendously and Parliament will announce more support for businesses on Monday, April 6 beyond the earlier budgets. This includes laws that require landlords to pass on taxed rebates in full and the ability to defer contractual obligations like paying rent and loans.
3. Wear a mask if you have to go out
Despite previous recommendations to only wear a mask if you're feeling unwell, people should now wear a mask if they have to go out. This is due to undetected community cases where infected people show no symptoms – this is to ensure that you "keep droplets to yourself" when you sneeze or cough and reduce the risk of spreading your germs. Reusable masks will be distributed to everyone from April 5 to 12 at community centres.
4. Schools move towards home-based learning
Pre-schools and student care centres will also close but some will continue to provide services for parents who work in essential services such as healthcare. Schools will also do away with this year's mid-year examinations.
5. Just stay home
Everyone is encouraged to stay home as far as possible. This includes avoiding socialising beyond your household, be visits extended family or friends. We know this can be hard for some due to psychological or emotional reasons – if you need to talk to someone, reach out to the following counselling and care services.
If you need a reminder to just stay home, listen to Dick Lee's new rendition of Home here.