Singapore’s Covid restrictions may be relaxed after June 13 if situation improves


Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore’s prime minister.

Roslan Rahman | AFP | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Monday that the country’s Covid restrictions may be relaxed after June 13 if the situation improves.

“Barring another super-spreader or big cluster, we should be on track to bring this outbreak under control,” he said in a televised address.

“If our situation continues to improve, and the number of community cases falls further, we should be able to relax the restrictions after 13 June,” he said.

The Southeast Asian nation imposed tighter measures twice in May, after the number of local coronavirus infections climbed higher in April.

The surge in cases also led to another delay of the travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong.

‘New normal’

Lee said Singapore is fighting “more infectious virus strains,” and will need to inoculate as many as possible to reach “herd immunity” — which occurs when sufficient people in the community are infected or vaccinated, and the disease can no longer spread rapidly.

“We must continually adjust our strategies, and raise our game to keep Covid-19 under control,” he said, adding that the country will need to test, trace and vaccinate its population more quickly.

Singapore is using various types of Covid-19 tests along with polymerase chain reaction tests, which are widely viewed as the gold standard.

“You should expect routine, large-scale, fast and simple testing to be part of our new normal,” Lee said.

As for contact tracing, people who live with a close contact of an infected case will now need to be isolated. Previously, only the close contacts would need to be quarantined.

“This more aggressive approach will help us to shut down clusters more quickly,” he said.

Expanding the vaccination program

From Tuesday, more than 400,000 students in Singapore will be able to book vaccination slots, the prime minister said.

Graduating cohorts and special needs students will be given priority and can begin vaccination as soon as Thursday.

Young adults 39 years and younger should be able to book vaccination slots around mid-June, with Singaporeans getting a two-week priority window, he said.

Senior citizens above 60 years old will now be able to get vaccinated without needing to register in advance, and can walk into any vaccination center to get their shots, he said.

As of Sunday, the country reported 62,028 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 33 deaths from the disease.

Since May 8, Singapore lengthened quarantines for travelers arriving from overseas, closed indoor gyms and limited social gatherings to groups of five.

It later announced a ban on dine-in, capped public gatherings to groups of two, and said all workers who can work from home must do so from May 16 to June 13. At that time, the government said it would review the measures two weeks later.

Singapore’s government last week warned of “heightened uncertainties” in the months ahead because of the pandemic, but maintained its growth forecast at 4% to 6% for 2021. The country’s economy grew 1.3% in the first quarter of 2021, the fastest pace in more than a year.

This article was originally published on CNBC