Singapore will enter the Phase 3 from 28 December 2020, as announced on 14 December 2020.
After a 55-day circuit breaker and a two-week implementation of Phase 1 guidelines, the country has been adhering to regulations in Phase 2 in what seemed like forever (technically it’s only been since mid-June, but we’re just being dramatic here). Six months later, we finally have news about moving into Phase 3 while the first shipment of vaccines will arrive by year end.
The third segment of the national reopening plan was announced via Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s national address yesterday. This news follows the marked fall in community case numbers overall: Singapore has seen fewer than 20 new Covid-19 cases each day since October 1, and the majority of the infections are imported cases who were placed on stay-home notice or isolated upon arrival.
Here’s what we know so far about the Phase 3 reopening.
Increased capacity for group gatherings and public spaces
The group size for gatherings outside the home will be increased to eight persons, up from the current capacity of five. Similarly, the number of visitors to each household will also increase to eight.
Attractions will also be allowed to increase capacity to 65 percent from the current 50 percent, and malls will be allowed to take in more visitors as well. There will be an increased capacity of 250 people for worship services, in multiple zones of 50.
How long will Phase 3 last for?
According to PM Lee, Phase 3 may last for quite a while, possibly for a year or more, depending on when approved Covid-19 vaccines become available to Singapore. According to PM Lee, Singapore would be near the front of the queue for vaccines, as a result of diversified options that the government has taken — the first batch is set to arrive at the end of the month.
In his speech, PM Lee mentioned that after studying the scientific evidence and clinical trial data, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approved by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) for pandemic use.
Vaccinations will be free for Singaporeans and all long-term residents
If all goes according to plan, he said, the Singaporean government will have enough vaccines for everyone in Singapore by the third quarter of 2021.
Healthcare workers, frontline personnel, as well as the elderly and the vulnerable will be given priority access. Vaccinations will be voluntary and made free for Singaporeans and all long-term residents who are currently here.
PM Lee has stated that along with his colleagues in Cabinet, he will be getting vaccinated early as he aims “to show (the nation), especially seniors like me, that we believe the vaccines are safe.”
Singaporeans above the age of 16 are highly recommended to be vaccinated, with the exception of pregnant women and the immunocompromised.
Business travel arrivals are allowed from all countries
Under the new arrangements, a limited number of travellers can apply for stays of up to 14 days from mid-January, the trade ministry said.
Singapore already had arrangements allowing in selected visitors from countries including China and South Korea, but the new scheme marks a significant easing of travel curbs.
There are strict conditions, however, for those wishing to visit the city-state, which has escaped the coronavirus relatively lightly. Travellers must undergo virus tests before leaving their home country, on arrival in Singapore and regularly during their stay, and must reside and conduct meetings at locations selected by the government.
Arrangements are being made for visitors to hold meetings with their guests in specially designed meeting rooms outfitted with air-tight glass panels to reduce the risk of transmission.
“Trade and travel are our lifeblood,” PM Lee said. “The longer our own borders stay closed to travellers, the greater the risk of us permanently losing out as an international hub, consequently hurting our livelihoods.”
(Main and featured image: Guo Xin Goh on Unsplash)
This story first appeared in Lifestyle Asia Singapore.