Singapore tightens restrictions again as Covid cases rise

A Housing & Development Board (HDB) public housing estate in Singapore.

Wei Leng Tay | Bloomberg | Getty Images

SINGAPORE – The Singapore government said Tuesday it would tighten Covid-19 measures again as new cases continue to rise, making the country’s reopening plans difficult.

Measures include reintroducing a ban on eating and limiting the maximum number of people who can gather from 5 to 2.

Covid-19 cases in Singapore have increased in recent weeks. Several clusters have emerged around karaoke lounges, wet markets and hawker food centers, which raise concerns among the authorities. Health ministry data last week showed there were 480 cases in the community, a significant increase from the 19 reported in the past seven days.

Given the current transmission rate, the number of cases can be expected to rise sharply as more people are likely to be infected.

“This is very worrying as it can affect many people in our community across the island,” the Singapore Ministry of Health said in a statement.

“As we continue to conduct extensive testing for people at risk of infection, we can expect the number of cases to increase in the coming days,” she added.

Between July 12 and July 18, an average of 46 cases were detected in the community per day – the highest number of cases since April 2020, the Ministry of Health said on Tuesday.

The latest restrictions are in effect from Thursday July 22nd to August 18th.

What are the latest measures?

Restrictions that will be re-imposed include:

  • The number of people who are allowed to gather will be reduced from 5 to a maximum of 2 people.
  • Households are only allowed to receive 2 different visitors each day, not counting grandparents who look after their grandchildren.
  • Eating out is prohibited, but restaurants, food courts, and hawker centers are allowed to offer take-away.
  • Exhausting sports and exercise activities indoors, which normally require the removal of masks, will be discontinued.
  • Large events such as live performances and wedding receptions are being scaled down and pre-event testing remains an essential measure.
  • Working from home remains the standard option for most businesses.

Tuesday’s measures followed when the city-state reported 172 new cases on Monday, including 163 locally transmitted infections. It was the highest number of daily reported cases since last August.

Most of these cases were linked to two large clusters – the Jurong Fishery Port, where fishmongers gather their stocks to sell in markets and food centers, and the so-called KTV lounges or karaoke bars – where customers interact with hostesses .

Jurong Fishing Port is closed until the end of the month to break the chain of transmission while workers there have been quarantined.

Singapore has banned nightclubs, bars and KTV lounges from operating since last year as activity on the premises is considered a high risk. However, some of these establishments continued to operate as food and beverage outlets. Some of them are suspected of violating the Covid-19 rules by providing hostess services.

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