Gov.sg released its roadmap to phase 3 of the circuit breaker last week. We have been in Phase 2 for so long I actually thought we were already in Phase 3!
Phase Three does not mean a return to pre-COVID times. Until the virus is under control with widely available vaccines, we will be staying in Phase Three for a prolonged period, potentially over a year. That pretty much scuppers any travel and holidays look likely to be off limits for quite some time. Getting out is not so much of a problem as permission to return is. It can only be done through your employer and dependents have to hope and pray for permission to return.
It is expected that more activities will gradually resume under Phase Three, so long as the “key enablers” work as intended.
The Sg government has announced some of the Key Enablers for Phase Three
- Continued Adherence to Safe Management Measures
- Small groups (increasing from 5 to 8) (no parties for over a year is going to be tough!)
- Safe distancing
- Mask wearing
- Pre-event Testing
- Expansion of Digital Contact Tracing Tools
To allow more activities to resume safely, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MMTF) is piloting the use of pre-event testing for larger-scale and higher-risk activities.
TraceTogether-only Safe Entry will be gradually introduced at workplaces, schools and public venues such as cinemas. Currently these are in parks, shopping malls and shops as well as tourist spots that are open such as the zoo and National Gallery.
The exact timing of these changes hasn’t been announced but we have been told by the government that this will depend on our collective ability to cooperate with the requirements.
2. Increasing Capacity Limits
Phase Three, these capacity limits could be increased, with events having multiple zones of 50 persons. ‘Could’ is the key word here. It depends on other factors.
3. Considerations for Activities in Higher-Risk Settings
Higher-risk settings like bars, pubs, karaoke lounges and nightclubs are closed as their activities pose a higher risk of transmission. These activities are unlikely to resume at the start of Phase Three but the MMTF is considering a few limited pilots with a more stringent set of measures to explore how the industry could resume safely. (They have been closed for so long now it’s a wonder they will survive). The Government has said it will put in place an assistance package to help business operators transition to new areas if these sectors have to remain closed.
4. Facilitating travel and re-opening of borders
Presently, Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs) travelling from low-risk countries and regions are allowed to enter Singapore with a COVID-19 test instead of a Stay-Home Notice (SHN), while those from higher-risk countries/ regions are required to serve a SHN at home or at dedicated facilities. The government is exploring ways to deploy more frequent testing to allow more travelers to safely enter Singapore without serving a SHN. At the moment only essential business travel with the prior approval of the government is permitted, although general travel to Hong Kong may be coming soon.
Road to Phase 3 and beyond
The government has stated that it will also continue to explore vaccines, treatment, testing and other technologies which could enable a further easing of restrictions and resumption of travelling safely.
The Singapore government have done a fantastic job in controlling the spread of the virus (with the notable exception of the foreign worker dormitories) and the number of cases is below 10 everyday now. With the careful implementation of Phase 3 the slow return to the new normal begins. There is hope on the horizon.