Singapore

Economy to be opened in phases after end of circuit breaker

This article is more than 12 months old

The reopening of Singapore's economy will happen in phases after the end of the circuit breaker period on June 1, with the Government monitoring the number of new Covid-19 cases each time to decide how soon more restrictions can be lifted.

The co-chairs of the inter-ministry task force, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, said this would mean opening up one part of the economy and making sure it did not lead to a spike in cases before allowing other parts to open up.

"If we do the first step, we continue to monitor and the numbers do not spike up, the virus situation remains under control, and we have some confidence in all the measures we have put in place, then we can do the next step, and so on and so forth. So that will be the way we operate once the circuit breaker ends," said Mr Wong.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong added this could even mean reintroducing some circuit breaker measures if the situation flares up again. He said that what happens in the period after the authorities take the first steps to reopen the economy next month will be critical.

"We can't do it (reopen) in one step. And the progress, in terms of timing and the extent of the opening, will also depend on the number of cases after the first step," he said.

BIG SURGE

"If we have a big surge of cases right after the first step of opening, of course, then the progress will have to be slowed down. And it may become necessary for us to reintroduce some of the circuit breaker measures to ensure we keep the numbers low."

Mr Gan said the first businesses to reopen will likely be "more essential services that are quite critical to keep the economy going and keep life as normal as possible".

The task force has yet to announce what businesses will be allowed to open next month, but Mr Gan said more details will likely be announced next week.

The Government has repeatedly said that life will not return to normal straightaway after June 1, when circuit breaker measures to choke off the spread of the coronavirus are eased. Safe distancing measures should still be observed.

"We do not expect that (after) June 1 we will open everything and everything will go back to normal, (or that we should) begin to celebrate and have parties," said Mr Gan during a virtual press conference yesterday.

"We need to do so in a very calibrated, careful way, because we have seen experiences in other countries when it is open, everybody goes back to celebrate, and new cases and clusters emerge," added Mr Gan.

The country's stricter social distancing measures came into force on April 7 and were to last till May 4. It was later extended to June 1.

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