There is a real risk of resurgence in COVID-19 cases or clusters in Singapore if too many activities resume too quickly, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.
Responding to several questions from Members of Parliament, Mr Gan said Singapore will have to reimpose strict measures and slow the pace of opening if such a scenario happens. This is why, he said, Singapore will continue to adopt a cautious approach for high-risk activities such as those involving large numbers of people in enclosed spaces for prolonged periods of time. Mr Gan acknowledged that the two-month circuit breaker has been challenging for Singaporeans at time. “Overall, the circuit breaker was painful but necessary to slow the transmission in the community,” he said.
As such, Mr Gan urged Singaporeans to continue to exercise strong social responsibility to ensure that community transmission remains low.
Mr Lim Biow Chuan (MP for Mountbatten), in a supplementary question, raised a concern that some eateries may not be able to reopen when they are eventually allowed to so, as they could be insolvent by then.
In response, Mr Gan said the issue has been discussed by the multi-ministry task force. He acknowledged that while many F&B outlets have been allowed to offer takeaway services, but the basic level of activity is not enough. He added that it may also not be economical for some eateries to provide delivery services. Although the resumption of dine-in services has larger considerations, Mr Gan said it is something to be considered for Phase 2.
Mr Gan also said the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force has been monitoring the global situation and learning other countries, including their strategies for reopening the economy and community.
“The most important lesson we have learnt from other countries is that we cannot be complacent, as there is always the risk of a second wave of the virus,” he said.
Mr Melvin Yong (MP for Tanjong Pagar) also shared similar sentiments and cited how other countries are dealing with the second wave of infections after reopening their economy. Mr Yong called on the Government to:
- Conduct regular reviews and inspections for high-risk sectors to ensure measures are followed
- Incentivise companies to embrace remote working
- Invest more resources on mental healthcare
- Mandate a workplace safety and health representative for each company
Separately, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat explained that Singapore conducts a holistic assessment before deciding whether to allow travel to other countries, and added that other countries will be making the same assessment ‘so it has to be a bilateral mutual agreement’.
Singapore had earlier announced the first green lane arrangement with six Chinese provinces or municipalities that will launch on 8 June which is intended to focus on essential travel for businesses to function, and maintaining critical infrastructure and providing needed services.
Mr Chee said, “As global conditions improve, we will gradually expand arrangements to include more groups of travellers.”