Phase 2 before end-June if Singaporeans act responsibly: Wong
Decision to reopen further will be made by middle of next month
Social gatherings, restaurant dining and retail therapy at the malls may become a reality again in less than a month, if Singaporeans play their part by being vigilant and staying socially responsible.
At a press conference yesterday, the multi-ministry task force said Singapore may enter Phase Two and reopen "almost the entire economy" before the end of next month.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the task force, said this will depend on what happens in Phase One, which Singapore will enter on June 2.
The task force had said previously that Phase Two will come at least four weeks after the end of the circuit breaker, but could take place earlier depending on circumstances.
Said Mr Wong: "We will continue to monitor the situation, particularly over the first two weeks of June. If the community transmission, if infection rates over these two weeks remain low and stable, then we will decide by the middle of June on whether we want to take the next step to move to Phase Two."
The second phase will see more activities allowed, including the opening of shops, dining in, personal health and wellness and home-based services.
Sports facilities and public venues like stadiums and pools will also be opened.
While masks will remain compulsory, social gatherings of up to five people will be allowed, with households receiving up to five visitors a day.
Dining in will also be limited to groups of five. Households of more than five people must sit at different tables.
Mr Wong explained the number is less than the initially imposed limit of 10 prior to the circuit breaker, but was necessary as a tightened measure.
"Five means that if an infection were to happen, then you limit that cluster to that group of five people who were together with that infected person at any one time," he said.
The "rule of five" means places with higher risk are unlikely to reopen at the start of Phase Two. These include museums, libraries, cinemas, religious venues and bars.
The task force said the relevant agencies will discuss with businesses how they might reopen safely.
Mr Wong also revealed that Singapore is working on reopening borders, and is in talks with countries where Covid-19 is under control.
He said the aim was to facilitate essential travel to and from such countries, including Malaysia, which involves "the issue of workers moving up and down through our land crossing".
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who co-chairs the task force, said it was vital for the public not to celebrate just yet.
"In order for us to get there (to Phase Two), it is important for us to bear in mind not to have big parties and big celebrations as we open to Phase One from June 2," he said.
"If we start with a big bang party, we're going to get into trouble. So let us continue with Phase One, in a safe way."
Mr Wong warned that the timeline could be disrupted by just a few who are irresponsible.
"If people choose to disregard the rules... and take reckless actions that may cause clusters to form, then it will be very, very hard for us to proceed on this timeline."