Most workplaces will be closed from April 7 and all schools will move to full home-based learning a day later, as Singapore puts in place a “circuit breaker” to pre-empt escalating coronavirus infections, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
In an address to the nation on the Covid-19 situation, PM Lee said that all work premises except for key economic sectors and essential services – such as food establishments, markets and supermarkets, clinics, hospitals, utilities, transport and key banking services will close.
All schools and institutes of higher learning will close and move to full home-based learning from April 8.
Pre-school and student care services will also be closed, but would provide “limited services for children of parents” who have to continue working”, he said.
PM explained that while the situation remains under control, the Government has decided to “make a decisive move now, to pre-empt escalating infections”. The stricter measures will act “like a circuit breaker” to reduce the risk of a big outbreak occurring, and gradually bring the numbers down, he added.
Restrictions on movements and gatherings of people will be tightened amid the spread of COVID-19 in Singapore, announced Mr Lee.
Singaporeans should stay at home as much as possible, avoid socialising with others outside of their households and only go out to do essential things, he said.
Gatherings should be confined to a household and Singaporeans should avoid visiting extended family members who do not live with them, especially if they are elderly or vulnerable, he added.
He also added that Singaporeans should go out only to do essential things – to buy food at markets, or to take out from restaurants and hawker centres, or to exercise in the neighbourhood park.
The Health Ministry said the heightened safe distancing measures will be in place for four weeks – two incubation cycles – from April 7 until May 4.
The Government will “no longer discourage” people from wearing masks, Mr Lee also said, now that the situation is changing.
From April 5, the Government will distribute reusable masks to all households, announced Mr Lee.
Stressing that the next few weeks will be “pivotal”, Mr Lee said that if we keep our efforts up, we should be able to bring the numbers down and get into a more sustainable position.
“It will be a long fight. But if any country can see this through, it is Singapore. We have the resources. We have the determination. We are united. By helping one another through this, we will prevail, and emerge stronger.”
Separately, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, in his Facebook, emphasised that our food supply lines are intact, there is no need for Singaporeans to rush to supermarkets to stock up.
He urged everyone to purchase in a responsible manner and spare a thought for the more vulnerable amongst us.
“Remember that our individual actions will have a ripple effect on the rest of society. Panic buying will disrupt our supply lines and allow profiteers to take advantage of us,” he added.