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PM Lee: No eating at restaurants until community transmissions stay low

“The battle against Covid-19 is far from over. That is why we are re-opening in gradual phases," said the PM




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Singapore—Food is a big part of Singaporean culture and everyday life. With the coronavirus pandemic, however, we have all had to forgo eating at our favorite and especially since the country was put under circuit breaker restrictions in early April.

And while the country will begin to ease restrictions after June 1, we will not be able to go to our favorite eateries quite yet. This option is not included when services resume on June 2. Similarly, sports and recreation facilities, as well as most retail outlets and personal services, will not be available to the public yet either.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday (May 20), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that “the battle against Covid-19 is far from over. That is why we are re-opening in gradual phases, with FNB dine-ins only allowed after we are confident that community transmission will stay low.“

The Ministry of Health showed in its latest update that community cases of Covid-19 have gone down to two per day in the past week.

The Prime Minister added that in other countries the number of infections went up after restrictions were eased. “All it takes is a single infected person to create a new cluster,” he wrote.

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Restaurants may be particularly susceptible to the spread of the coronavirus, as people normally sit in close proximity to one another. One of Singapore’s earliest clusters of infection occurred at a dinner event at Safra Jurong. Employees working closely with one another at local McDonald’s outlets were also infected in March, leading to the closure of all McDonald’s branches across Singapore for over two weeks.

Other countries are also putting the opening of food and beverage establishments as the last priority in easing lockdown restrictions, and  some restaurant experiences such as eat all you can buffets may actually become a thing of the past, as infections could very quickly spread from one person to another in this sort of environment.

Therefore the takeaway and delivery options that continue to be a popular choice for people especially during this time may become part of the new normal for the foreseeable future.

A recent video from Japan went viral as it showed how quickly germs and viruses can spread within a restaurant even when only one person is infected. The video showed an experiment conducted by health experts, together with public broadcasting organisation NHK, and replicates the atmosphere at a buffet restaurant or on a cruise ship.

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In the video, people are seen going into a restaurant, with one person designated as the “infected“ individual. This person is given a fluorescent substance that can only be seen under black light, which is applied on their hands. The substance is supposed to represent germs from a sneeze or cough. All of the participants in the experiment are told to behave in the restaurant as they normally would, without thought of a possible contamination.

At the end of the video it can be seen under black light that the infection has spread to the food, and the plates and serving utensils. Some of the faces of the participants even showed traces of the substance. —/TISG

Read also: Amid coronavirus crisis, Michelin-listed hawker stall fights for survival

Amid coronavirus crisis, Michelin-listed hawker stall fights for survival

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