Singapore to reopen economy next month


Singapore is officially opening up its economy next month, albeit such a plan will be done so in phases, according to the multi-ministry task force on the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

At a virtual news briefing on Tuesday, the task force outlined its broad plan to reopen the economy in phases that will eventually be the new normal until a COVID-19 vaccine gets developed.

The reopening will be done in three phases called the safe reopening, safe transition, and the new normal.

With expectations of a spike in coronavirus cases upon the resumption of economy, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said the government is poised to roll back the phases should the figure blow up anew.

“As we begin to resume more activities, we do expect to see a rise in daily cases. If we can continue to keep the situation under control, then we can reopen progressively,” he said.

Under the first phase, critical businesses operating in low-transmission risk areas will be allowed to return to work. These include businesses that require machinery or specialized terminals and those that needed complete legal documentation.

Meanwhile, workers who can work from home are encouraged to remain indoors to avoid potential transmission.

Schools will also reopen starting June 10, with those graduating from primary and secondary levels required to attend classes daily. Those belonging in other levels will attend schools by weekly rotation.

Places of worship will be opened during the first phase, but will only be limited to private worships.

Social gatherings will remain banned although the government allowed up to two persons to visit immediate family members once a day.

For the second phase, more businesses including fitness centers will reopen and social activities will be allowed provided that safe distancing measures are observed.

The same applies to services and activities that involve significant prolonged close contacts such as massages and cinemas.

On public transport, commuters will have to wear masks and refrain from talking.

Depending on the progress of the two phases, Singapore said it will continue to impose safety measures until the country gets prepared for the so-called “safe nation.”

In the third phase, social, cultural, religious and business gatherings will be opened up in what it calls a “new normal” until a vaccine is developed.

“We have to do this in a careful and calibrated manner as we don’t want to risk a flaring up of virus. And importantly, we do not want to sacrifice the efforts all of us have put in controlling the outbreak,” said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.