Singapore — In his update on the Covid-19 situation in Parliament on Monday (Jul 26), Finance Minister Lawrence Wong gave Singaporeans some developments they can look forward to.
These include the possibility of quarantine-free travel even as early as Sept, as well as relaxed restrictions, possibly even as soon as next month.
The main reason for this is that 80 per cent of people in Singapore are expected to be fully vaccinated by Sept, and those who are fully vaccinated may be able to travel without the need for quarantine by then, removing the required two-week Stay Home Notice travellers currently undergo.
And while the original date for Phase 2 Heightened Alert to end is on Aug 18, Mr Wong, the head of the multi-ministry task force assigned to deal with the pandemic and the government’s public face for its response to the crisis, said some restrictions may end even before that date.
He acknowledged how difficult the return to more restrictions has been to many Singaporeans, saying, “I know the restrictions have caused much inconvenience to everyone. We seek your forbearance and understanding.”
While the country had been on its way to begin “living with Covid,” major outbreaks at KTV lounges and the Jurong Fishery Port caused restrictions to be tightened again, causing many to criticize the government’s handling of the pandemic.
Mr Wong added that even though other countries have opened despite surges in infections, things are different in Singapore.
“While other countries may have come to terms with a certain level of Covid-19 cases and even deaths, this is not the choice we want to make. Here, we look out for one another. We do not want to see large numbers of Covid-19 patients in intensive care, on oxygen supplementation, let alone succumb to the virus.”
However, because of the vaccination rollout, life will be much less restricted in the near future.
Differentiated measures for those who are fully vaccinated may be put in place by early next month, when two-thirds of the population and three-quarters of seniors are expected to have received both vaccine jabs, provided that infection clusters remain under control and hospitalisation rates are low.
Therefore, barring any additional hiccups, by Sept, bigger groups may be allowed to gather and quarantine-free travel may be allowed.
This signals good news for the food and beverage and retail sectors, as well as other establishments such as beauty salons and gyms, said Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong.
And while a distinction will be made between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, this will be temporary, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung.
Mr Ong called it “the most peculiar period of our transition” that would protect the vulnerable while allowing businesses to open up.
“When our whole society is very highly vaccinated and we have transitioned to living with Covid-19, we should make very little differentiation between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated,” he said.
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