Singapore

New restrictions are to prevent 'super-spreader events': Wong

Singapore introduced its latest set of measures to increase social distancing because there were still accounts of people going to nightspots and gathering together in large groups, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

Such behaviour is the reason the Government has had to apply another set of "brakes", which will kick in at 11.59pm today, to limit gatherings outside of work and school to fewer than 10 people, he told the House yesterday.

"We have to move faster - much faster," he said. "We still hear anecdotes of people going to discos, nightclubs, and gathering in large groups; our big worry is that these can become super-spreader events, spawning new clusters and potential runaway outbreaks."

TWO INCUBATION CYCLES

The stricter safe distancing measures include the cancellation or deferment of all mass gatherings for at least the next month, as that will add up to two virus incubation cycles.

All entertainment venues, such as bars and cinemas, and tuition centres will be closed until April 30. Similarly, all religious services will be suspended till the end of next month.

While malls, museums and attractions can stay open, they have to abide by such restrictions as keeping groups to fewer than 10 people and practising safe distancing.

Mr Wong also reiterated his call for Singaporeans to defer all travel, noting that the Government has raised the travel advisory to the highest level.

Underpinning these social distancing efforts is the need for all Singaporeans to take individual and social responsibility, as "the fight against the virus cannot be done by front-line agencies, front-line workers or government agencies alone", said Mr Wong.

The Government has also not ruled out more drastic measures should the number of infected cases continue to rise, despite the current safeguards, he said.

These would include the need to suspend schools and close workplaces.

As he started to thank healthcare workers and the "many more unsung heroes" in industries such as cleaning, transport and essential services, Mr Wong began to tear up.

After a two-minute break - and thumps of encouragement from MPs in the House - a wet-eyed Mr Wong went on.

"Words are not sufficient to express our appreciation for so many Singaporeans going all out to fight the virus," he said.

"And I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who is doing their part."

coronavirus