So here begins another blog post with lamenting about how long it has been since I wrote a blog post. While I have plenty of time, I seem to be doing fewer things that seem notable enough to write about. I suppose this is the state of 2020!
So far in 2020, I wrote about the early days of COVID-19 (March), increasingly strict prevention measures (April) and lockdown (June). I also covered some random other topics like Crime, Voting and National Day celebrations. Since then, I have been getting more questions about reopening in Singapore, so I thought I would pick up where my lockdown post left off. Like most of the world, Singapore residents spent about two months in a fairly strict lockdown – no socializing outside your household, mandatory masks when leaving your apartment, you weren’t even supposed to exercise in pairs!
Starting from the end of June, Singapore has been increasingly reopening (albeit with many restrictions). You can leave your house again (but with a mask on at all times). You are able to see friends again (but limited to groups of five). Restaurants and retail locations have reopened (but with a mandatory check-in and check-out process on your phone and with your temperature checked). I resumed going to the gym and golf lessons (with more social distancing). Even amusement parks and attractions have reopened (but at limited capacity).
Singapore has even started to reopen its borders to the rest of the world. Non-Singaporeans were finally allowed to enter following lockdown (with a strict two-week quarantine to be completed at a government monitored facility). Increasingly, Singapore is loosening restrictions (some types of high-profile business travellers have more lenient quarantine restrictions, and travellers from low-risk countries do not have to quarantine at all). My fingers are crossed that these restrictions continue to ease and that I will be able to book a trip back to Canada sometime soon. Of course, I could leave Singapore in an emergency, but it would create complications at work as I still do need to seek approvals from the government to return to the country.
Thankfully, due a slow and highly monitored re-opening process, Singapore has not seen a spike in new cases (new case counts are at an all-time low). On an average day, there are only 5-10 new cases reported. Most of the new cases are from incoming people, and because they must complete a strict quarantine, they are able to enter treatment before they spread the disease to others. Every day this past week there were less than 5 “locally transmitted” cases in the broader community (among population of 6 million).
The hope is that Singapore reaches an equilibrium where there are few (or no) locally transmitted cases and more and more things can go back to normal. Singapore launched a local tourism campagin (Rediscover Singapore) to encourage people to try new things (and spend money) across the island. A few cruise ships have just been approved for “cruises to nowhere” for Singapore residents (3-4 days at sea with no stops). Talks are allegedly underway to open travel bubbles (Singapore allows New Zealanders to enter with no quarantine).
So, I’m following the laws, staying safe and healthy, and feeling grateful for the freedom I do have on the island (even if it is a small island). Of course, I am thinking of everyone back at home and sending my best wishes among spiking case numbers. Stay safe and healthy everyone!