Singapore to exit circuit breaker on Jun 1, visiting of parents, places of worship allowed with restrictions

Singapore to exit circuit breaker on Jun 1, visiting of parents, places of worship allowed with restrictions

May 12 easing of circuit breaker measures (1)
People queue up outside a hairdressing salon on May 12, following the easing of some circuit breaker measures. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

SINGAPORE: Singapore will exit the circuit breaker as planned on Jun 1, with measures to be progressively lifted in three phases from the next day, the authorities announced on Tuesday (May 19).

As the risk of a resurgence in community transmission remains high, the Government will first resume economic activities that do not pose a high risk of transmission in the first phase, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said in a joint media statement.

Besides the essential businesses that are already operating, businesses that operate in settings with lower transmission risks will be allowed to open. These include manufacturing firms, subject to the issued guidelines set for the manufacturing sectors and most offices. Nevertheless, the authorities said that tele-commuting must be used to the “maximum extent”.

READ: Transition to a 'new normal' after circuit breaker: How will measures be lifted beyond Phase 1?

READ: Singapore to gradually reopen borders, plans to resume essential travel among countries with low COVID-19 transmission rate

“Those who have been working from home so far should continue to do so, and employees should go to the office only where demonstrably necessary,” they said.

Such circumstances might include employees who need to return to the office to access specialised systems and equipment that cannot be accessed from home, or to fulfil legal requirements.

The circuit breaker measures first took effect on Apr 7, and were further tightened after three weeks, with more workplaces closed, and social gatherings banned.

In announcing the lifting of measures, the authorities emphasised that the country is likely to see a rise in new community cases.

READ: Singapore reports 451 new COVID-19 cases, taking country's total to 28,794

READ: Number of discharged COVID-19 patients in Singapore crosses 10,000 mark

READ: COVID-19: DPM Heng Swee Keat to deliver ministerial statement on further help for businesses, individuals

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, speaking at a COVID-19 multi-ministry task force press conference, said that the task force’s decision to exit the circuit breaker is because of the low number of cases in the community, and the stabilised situation at the dormitories.

As the nation resumes more activities, however, Singapore can expect to see a rise in daily new cases, he cautioned.

“The key is to detect these cases and contain them quickly, so as to prevent a sharp rise in the number of cases, or the emergence of a large cluster,” he said.

READ: COVID-19 circuit breaker extended until Jun 1 as Singapore aims to bring down community cases ‘decisively’: PM Lee

READ: Singapore to start gradual easing of circuit breaker measures as COVID-19 community cases decline

HAIRDRESSERS, BARBERS CAN OFFER ALL SERVICES

Hairdressers and barbers will be allowed to resume all services, beyond just basic haircut services.

All home-based businesses that operate using a delivery or collection model will also be allowed to resume.

Businesses that can resume operations from Jun 2 will not need to apply for exemptions, but will have to submit their manpower details through the GoBusiness portal within two weeks of the date of resumption of operations, the authorities said.

Other services that will be able to resume include motor vehicle servicing, aircon servicing, printing, basic pet services, school bookshops and retail shops selling school uniforms.

READ: COVID-19: Graduating primary, secondary students to attend school on weekdays after circuit breaker ends; others to rotate weekly

Most retail outlets and other personal services will however not reopen in Phase 1.

Dining in at food and beverage outlets will continue to be disallowed. Sports and recreation facilities will also remain closed.

“Everyone should continue to leave home only for essential activities, and should wear a mask when doing so. As seniors are a particularly vulnerable group, they should continue to stay at home as much as possible,” the authorities said.

DROPPING OFF CHILDREN AT GRANDPARENTS, SOME VISITING ALLOWED

The agencies said that while people should continue to limit contact with others outside of their household, some exemptions will be allowed.

Each household will be allowed to visit their parents or grandparents, a move that will allow families to spend time and provide support to one another.

“Each receiving household should limit such visits to only one per day, and to not more than two persons who must be from the same visiting household,” they said.

As part of this policy, dropping off children at parents’ and grandparents’ homes for childcare will also be allowed, subject to the same limit of two visitors from the same visiting household per day, they added.

READ: COVID-19: Pre-schools, early intervention centres to reopen gradually from Jun 2

READ: Polytechnic lectures to remain online after circuit breaker ends, ITE students to rotate between online and on-campus lessons

Mr Gan stressed that while families can visit parents and grandparents, seniors should refrain from leaving their homes to visit their families.

“Children or grandchildren can visit their parents or grandparents. Grandparents and parents, please stay at home. Don't go visiting your children, because we do want to keep you safe at home,” he said.

Siblings will not be allowed to visit each other. 

IN-PERSON MARRIAGE SOLEMNISATION, PRIVATE WORSHIP ALLOWED

The authorities added that they will allow marriage solemnisations to take place in-person again, involving up to 10 persons.

Places of worship can also reopen for private worship, they added. This will be limited to a maximum of five members of the same household praying together at any one time.

“Families can continue to gather for wakes and funerals, with no more than 10 persons at any one time,” the authorities added.

“Other non-essential activities and social gatherings will remain prohibited, as these will invariably bring together more people living in different households, undermining our efforts to keep our families safe,” they added.

PRE-SCHOOLS TO GRADUALLY REOPEN, GRADUATING STUDENTS TO ATTEND SCHOOL DAILY

Pre-schools will gradually reopen from Jun 2, so that young children can be cared for safely while their parents return to work, the authorities said. 

This will begin first with children from the kindergarten levels, followed by those in nursery levels, and finally, those in infant care or playgroup on Jun 10.

READ: COVID-19: Pre-schools, early intervention centres to reopen gradually from Jun 2

READ: COVID-19: Graduating primary, secondary students to attend school on weekdays after circuit breaker ends; others to rotate weekly

In Phase 1, students from graduating cohorts in the primary and secondary levels will also be allowed to return to school on weekdays, while other cohorts will rotate weekly, alternating between home-based learning (HBL) and returning to school for lessons.

Junior Colleges and Millennia Institute will arrange to have half of their students back in school at any one time. Students in the Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) whose terms are in session will be able to return to campus for practical and lab-based sessions, with lectures remaining online.

Studentcare centres will also fully reopen on Jun 2, along with the reopening of schools.

Co-curricular activities, enrichment activities and tuition however will not resume as “they encourage mingling across classes and schools”, the authorities said.

SOME HEALTHCARE SERVICES TO RESUME

Healthcare services such as specialist outpatient services, medical procedures, allied health services, community-based services, and chronic disease management will resume, prioritised by healthcare providers based on medical necessity and available capacity, the authorities said.

Examples include surgeries for advanced cataracts, joint surgeries for patients with severe impairment, cancer screening and surveillance services including scopes for high-risk groups, ongoing dental procedures with guidance to minimise aerosol-generation, and diabetic foot screening.

Preventive health services, such as flu vaccinations, will also recommence. Complementary healthcare services will resume for one-to-one sessions and by appointment, and traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture will be allowed for all conditions, they said.

READ: SAF, SPF and SCDF to resume basic training with COVID-19 preventive measures from May 26

Providers will have to maintain appropriate safe distancing and precautionary measures, they said.

Senior activity centres will gradually resume some activities in a safe and controlled manner, to address the psychosocial well-being of seniors with little or no social support.

Community-based centre services for persons with disabilities will also gradually reopen to serve those who need the services, with safe distancing measures in place, MOH and MTI said.

Activities, where needed, will be held in smaller groups, and persons who have medical conditions are encouraged to remain at home to receive home-based support, the authorities said.

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Source: CNA/ja

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