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Singapore to allow most businesses to reopen as virus rules ease

Singapore initially kept the virus in check with a strict regime of testing and contact tracing, only for serious outbreaks to emerge later in dormitories housing low-paid migrant workers.

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Singapore will allow most businesses to reopen on Friday as the hard-hit city-state further eases its coronavirus restrictions.

But potential “super-spreader” venues such as cinemas, bars and nightclubs will stay closed despite infection rates remaining stable for the past two weeks, officials said Monday.

Singapore initially kept the virus in check with a strict regime of testing and contact tracing, only for serious outbreaks to emerge later in dormitories housing low-paid migrant workers.

It now has the highest recorded number of infections in Southeast Asia with over 40,000 cases, mostly among foreign workers. The death toll stands at 26.

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Authorities have been gradually easing a partial lockdown imposed in early April that forced schools and most workplaces to close and people to stay home unless they were going out for a good reason.

At the start of June some were allowed to return to work and school as part of a three-stage relaxation.

From Friday the “vast majority” of businesses can resume operations as long as safe distancing rules are in place, said Lawrence Wong, a cabinet minister who is a key figure in Singapore’s fight against the COVID-19 outbreak.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said the number of infections in the community “has remained stable and under control” for the past two weeks and the number of new cases in migrant workers’ dorms has also declined.

Social gatherings of up to five people will also be allowed from Friday, but individuals should stay one metre (three feet) apart from each other.

People will be allowed to eat at restaurants, but live music and TV will not be allowed to be played as the noise can cause people to speak more loudly and spread droplets from their mouths.

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