COVID-19: Go out alone for essential needs, don't make it a ‘family outing’, say Singapore leaders

COVID-19: Go out alone for essential needs, don't make it a ‘family outing’, say Singapore leaders

Market safe distancing (3)
Customers wait in line at a wet market in Chinatown after the implementation of safe distancing measures, Apr 7, 2020. 

SINGAPORE: If you need to go out and buy food or groceries, go alone. If you need to go out and exercise, go alone. If you need to leave your house, go alone.

That was the message from Singapore’s leaders, ministries and agencies on Tuesday (Apr 21) night as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced a four-week extension to the “circuit breaker”, aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19. Originally scheduled to end on May 4, the circuit breaker period has been extended to Jun 1.

The multi-ministry task force also announced tighter measures on Tuesday, including trimming the list of essential services and introducing entry restrictions to several popular wet markets to thin out crowds.

In his remarks on Tuesday, Mr Lee urged people to stay at home as much as possible. Should they need to go out for the essentials, they should do so alone, he said.

"Go out alone, get what you need, and return home straightaway," said Mr Lee.

“Do your marketing on weekdays rather than weekends, and don’t bring your whole family with you for grocery shopping.”

He added in his Chinese remarks that only one person from each household should be away from home at any one time.

READ: From bubble tea runs to getting a haircut: What you can or cannot do under tighter COVID-19 circuit breaker rules

Circuit breaker essential services closed graphic

His comments were echoed by Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the task force.

He called on people to “minimise movement” and to continue to take precautions, such as wearing a mask, practising safe distancing, and not touching their faces.

“But the best way to beat the virus is to stay home,” he added.

“So if you need to go out – buy food, buy groceries – go out alone. Do not turn this into an occasion for a family outing.”

READ: Singapore's COVID-19 cases top 9,000 after 1,111 new cases reported

He said the task force is mindful that some people have difficulties being isolated at home.

“It is genuinely difficult. It can lead to social, emotional difficulties, which can all impact on people’s well-being and health. That’s why we allow people to go out for essential activities,” he explained.

“What we are saying is, when you go out, go out alone. Do what you need to do – run your errands, buy your food and groceries – and then come back as soon as possible.”

Under the tighter measures, people can still go out and exercise, but should do so alone and in the area where they live.

“If you need to go out and exercise, exercise alone and in your own neighbourhood,” Mr Wong said.

“Do not travel out to exercise. We call on everyone to do this because it is the best way to protect yourselves and your family members.”

Sport Singapore (SportSG) on Tuesday advised people to workout at home instead of going out.

Exercising outdoors is not encouraged, and those who do so should not linger after their exercise but return home immediately.

“Individuals may leave home to walk, run, cycle or engage in other similar exercise, alone, and in their immediate neighbourhoods, rather than travel unnecessarily to other parts of Singapore,” SportSG said.

Safe distancing measures must also be observed and masks must be worn at all times, unless doing strenuous exercise.

covid-19 - singapore mask rules during exercise

Car parks, convenience stores, and F&B outlets in gardens, parks and nature reserves are closed.

READ: COVID-19: June school holidays brought forward, GCE Mother Tongue exams rescheduled

THE SPIRIT OF THE MEASURES

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said while everyone must follow the circuit breaker measures “strictly”, they should also observe “the spirit” of the measures.

People who leave their homes should not do so in groups. “These trips are not meant to be family outings,” the health ministry said.

“We want to minimise the number of people out and about to reduce the chances of community transmission.

“We understand that some members of the public will need to be accompanied by a caregiver, for example, frail seniors, the disabled, and young children.

“We encourage everyone to adhere to the spirit of the guidelines to minimise movement, and complete their tasks and return to their homes quickly.”

READ: Commentary: COVID-19 has stripped work to bare bones - was all that excess needed anyway?

The tighter measures will be in place for a two-week period from Tuesday until May 4.

The circuit breaker period will go on for another four weeks until Jun 1, and the task force may be able to gradually ease measures if there is a “significant decline” in local transmission numbers.

“Remember, it is not just about adhering to the letter of the law. The spirit of the guidelines is to reduce movement to a minimum, and to avoid being out and about in the community,” Mr Lee said.

“This is the way to protect yourself, your family and everyone else. So I hope everyone can cooperate and do your part.”

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Source: CNA/mi

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