Singapore — It will be a Chinese New Year with a difference next month for Singaporeans, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his family.
While Singapore has managed to get the number of infections under control, including zero community cases since Jan 23, the pandemic is still raging in many parts of the world.
Chinese New Year celebrations will have to be pared down so that no new infection clusters start, Mr Lee said to journalists on Wednesday (Jan 27) when he visited Ang Mo Kio Polyclinic on the first day of Covid-19 vaccinations for senior citizens.
“I will do my usual visits to essential workers who are still working away during this period … Then I will celebrate Chinese New Year with eight visitors — not more — from the family,” Mr Lee was quoted as saying by straitstimes.com (ST) on Wednesday (Jan 27).
He said celebrating Chinese New Year could lead to a super-spreader event, which is why additional curbs have been set.
”Chinese New Year, just like … other festivals, (involves) people visiting one another in big numbers. You enjoy yourself, you have food, you have drinks, you gamble together. And each time we do that, there is a risk.”
A few clusters, such as the three that emerged last week, are still manageable, as this would only mean some hundreds of people needing to be tracked.
However, a few dozens of clusters could send the country back into a Circuit Breaker scenario, which the Prime Minister called “a very high and disruptive cost for all of us in Singapore to pay”.
Therefore, he urged Singaporeans to exercise restraint and celebrate Chinese New Year in a more low-key manner this year, so that next year, bigger celebrations may resume.
ST also quotes him as saying: “I hope everybody will understand that this is not a normal Year of the Ox, we do have to take precautions … celebrate it in the right spirit but keep ourselves safe so that perhaps a year from now, when the Year of the Tiger comes around, we would be roaring like a tiger.”
Earlier, in a Facebook post on Saturday (Jan 23), Mr Lee had reminded Singaporeans that from Tuesday (Jan 26), “each household may only receive eight visitors per day. If you are visiting others, please limit yourself to visiting two households a day, and visit family members only”.
“These stricter measures will surely disappoint all of us looking forward to celebrating CNY. But we must psychologically prepare ourselves to celebrate CNY differently this year. Just look at the countries near and far experiencing repeated surges in cases, and you will see why we need to stay vigilant,” he said. /TISG
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