Sunday, 09 August 2020

Singapore to reopen some schools, trades in June

Singapore is set to restart its economy, with some schools and select trades allowed to resume activities next month. Health minister Gan Kim Yong on Tuesday said that “critical, low-risk economic activities” can resume operations starting 2 June.

Certain schools and some health care services – such as chronic management disease services as well as specialist outpatient, medical and dental services – will reopen. Senior care services and activity centres are also part of those sectors that will be allowed to operate again. The health minister also said that households will be allowed to visit parents or grandparents who are not staying with them.

Trade and industry minister Chan Chun Sing confirmed that companies in manufacturing and production, wholesale trade, transport and storage, professional services, finance and insurance and other selected services such as air conditioning servicing can also resume operations starting 2 June. Chan said, however, that the work-from-home arrangement should continue for those who can do so.

Firms gearing up for reopening must abide by strict social distancing and other measures, including ensuring safe transport arrangements, setting up a contract tracing system and avoiding the cross deployment of staff between different teams.

The easing of measures and the reopening of the economy are part of the first phase called “safe opening” in Singapore’s three-stage plan to exit from coronavirus restrictions. The island nation has already progressively eased certain measures since 5 May.

Gan said that the exit “will be done in phases to reduce the risk of a second wave of infections as many countries have experienced after they have lifted their control measures.”

The second phase of the plan is called “safe transition period,” during which most restrictive measures will be rolled back and more social activities will resume. In this phase, Singaporeans may dine in while sports facilities and retail shops may reopen. The health minister, however, said it “may take several months.”

Phase three, or “safe nation,” would define Singapore’s new normal.