Coronavirus: Almost entire economy to reopen under phase two

290520 - Almost entire industry to Reopen after Phase 2

Phase two will see the reopening of retail shops and consumer services, as well as sports facilities such as stadiums and swimming pools. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Phase two of Singapore’s exit from the circuit breaker will entail the resumption of a wider range of activities and the reopening of almost the entire economy, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong yesterday.

But certain high-risk locations may not reopen immediately, he added at a virtual press conference.

Around 75 per cent of the economy will resume operations in phase one next Tuesday, after the circuit breaker ends.

Mr Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19, said the authorities will monitor the situation in the first two weeks of next month before deciding whether to proceed to phase two. “If the community transmission (and) infection rates over these two weeks remain low and stable, then we will decide by the middle of June whether we want to take the next step… And that means that phase two could happen before the end of June,” he said.

Phase two will see the reopening of retail shops and consumer services, as well as sports facilities such as stadiums and swimming pools.

Wearing masks will remain compulsory when leaving the home, but social gatherings and dining in at food and beverage outlets will be allowed in groups of five or fewer.

Households may receive up to five visitors per day as well.

However, higher-risk activities and locations such as religious services, art galleries, libraries and museums may not reopen as quickly.

The same goes for large-scale events and venues such as conferences, exhibitions, concerts and trade fairs, as well as entertainment venues such as bars, nightclubs, karaoke outlets, cinemas and theatres, along with other indoor and outdoor attractions.

Said Mr Wong: “All of these venues and settings, based on our experience and overseas experience, have been (settings) where there have been cases of transmission… so we want to take a more cautious approach.”

The authorities will discuss the various safeguards that need to be put in place with the relevant businesses and organisations, and work out the precise timing when they can resume activities within phase two, he added.

“They may not all resume at the start of phase two, but if they have the safeguards and precautions in place, they could resume later, but still within phase two,” he said.

Asked if the move to phase two was being accelerated due to calls from businesses which want to reopen early, Mr Wong said the timeline was, in fact, consistent with what was previously announced.

“It’s still within the timeframe that we have been talking about. It’s just a little bit more clarity now on what people can expect in terms of the coming weeks,” he said.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who also co-chairs the task force, said restrictions may be tightened again, depending on the situation.

This might take the form of targeted, specific controls, rather than a broad circuit breaker approach.

Mr Wong also cautioned that the start date of phase two is contingent on infection numbers remaining low and stable.

Thus far, Singapore seems on track for a move to phase two before the end of next month, he said.

However, he warned: “But anything can happen. You know how the virus is. You know how the situation is… I think all of us are fully aware that things can be fluid and completely unpredictable.”

He said: “It is even more important for everyone to take responsibility for their actions.” He added that the likelihood of transmission will rise with more activities.

“So it’s all the more important for us to stay vigilant… Do not just rely on government measures or government rules. All of us have to do our part as individuals.”

Updated from : The Straits Times, 29 May 2020