SINGAPORE: Parents will no longer be allowed to drop their children off at their grandparents' place on a daily basis, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Thursday (Apr 9), as part of further measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Singapore.
This is to protect the elderly who are more vulnerable to the virus.
"If there are care arrangements for the grandparents to look after your children, then you should leave the children with their grandparents throughout the entire 'circuit breaker' period," said Mr Gan.
"This is to protect the seniors, to minimise their risk of exposure to the virus.
“Every time when you bring your children to your parents or to the grandparents, you expose them again and again to potential infection."
READ: COVID-19: Singapore makes 'decisive move' to close most workplaces and impose full home-based learning for schools, says PM Lee
Speaking at a press conference by the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force, Mr Gan acknowledged that parents who work in essential services may face issues finding help to look after their children.
In such cases, they can place their children in childcare centres, which remain open to these parents.
“We have made childcare services available for essential service workers. If there are no alternatives, appeal to us, and we will consider on a case by case, but only for essential services workers, and only when there are no alternatives,” he added.
Those who need to visit their elderly parents who live alone to help them with their daily needs will still be allowed to do so.
“Do try to reduce the interaction times as far as possible, and observe strict personal hygiene,” Mr Gan urged.
These announcements come amid "circuit breaker" measures which kicked in on Tuesday that are aimed at slowing down the transmission of COVID-19 in Singapore. Only essential services such as clinics, supermarkets and food establishments remain open., although no dining in is allowed.
Most workplaces are closed and schools have implemented full home-based learning.
The "circuit breaker" measures will last until May 4.
Singapore on Thursday reported a record 287 new cases of COVID-19, with the majority linked to foreign worker dormitories.
This brings the national tally to 1,910.
READ: Singapore reports a record 287 new COVID-19 cases with more than half linked to dormitory cluster
OPEN-AIR STADIUMS TO CLOSE
Speaking at the press conference, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong announced that open-air stadiums will be closed "henceforth", because people continued to exercise in groups despite the safe distancing rules.
“We had kept stadiums open, because we thought this would be an avenue where people going out to exercise, could exercise without bunching together, but yet, unfortunately, we do see groups, people coming in groups to exercise at the stadium,” said Mr Wong, who is co-chair of the task force.
If people continue to gather outdoors, rules could be further tightened to include controlling access to parks.
“We are not stopping people from going out to exercise, but if you want to exercise, do it by yourself, or do it with a family member that's already living with you and do it in your own neighbourhood. Do not go out to a special place outside, drive, make a special trip, just to exercise,” warned Mr Wong.
“Minimise movement, minimise travel, do what you need to do within your own local neighborhood. Do not exercise in groups, do not jog in groups, do not cycle in groups. Any such activities would be an offence.”
He noted that the authorities are already dealing with COVID-19 clusters in foreign worker dormitories, and urged people to do their part to prevent more clusters from emerging in the community.
"So let's be quite clear once again about what this circuit breaker means - it really requires all of us to minimise movement and stay at home as much as possible, so that we do not become the weakest link that causes another large cluster to emerge," said Mr Wong.
“We are continuing to enforce and review the rules, and over the coming days as we monitor movement, we may very well have to tighten up some more, so that the circuit breaker will truly be effective, and all the efforts and sacrifices that Singaporeans are making over this coming month will eventually pay off."