Singapore begins easing Covid restrictions as day by day infections decline

A woman wearing a face mask as a prevention against Covid-19 walks along the promenade at Marina Bay in Singapore on May 23, 2020.

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SINGAPORE – The Singapore government announced on Thursday that it would ease restrictions on Covid as the number of daily infections has decreased.

The Southeast Asian country tightened social distancing measures last month to curb a surge in local Covid-19 infections. These measures, which included eating out and small social gatherings, had been in place since mid-May.

Starting Monday, Singapore allows social gatherings of five people – an increase from the current two-person limit.

Restrictions on event attendees and operating capacity in places like public libraries and museums will also be relaxed, the government said.

We must learn to live with the virus and then do our best to minimize transmission and minimize the risk of large clusters breaking out.

Lawrence Wong

Singapore Finance Minister

From June 21st, the restrictions will be further relaxed. Activities such as dining out and some mask-off activities in gyms and gyms are allowed to resume with some social distancing measures.

However, working from home remains the standard for those who can, the government said.

Local infections in Singapore have dropped to single digits in the past few days. In total, the country has reported more than 62,000 cases since the beginning of last year, with 34 deaths on Wednesday, data from the health ministry showed.

However, Treasury Secretary Lawrence Wong, co-chair of Singapore’s Covid Task Force, said the country needs to be prepared to see more cases as it opens. He added that the country needs to continue its vaccination and testing efforts to curb high rates of infection within the community.

“We have to learn to live with the virus and then do our best to minimize transmission and minimize the risk of large clusters breaking out,” Wong said at a media briefing Thursday.

Vaccination progress

Around 2.5 million people have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, according to Singapore. That’s about 40% of the population.

As of Friday, the country will allow people ages 12 to 39 to register for the vaccination.

Wong said Singapore aims to have 50% of its population fully vaccinated by August. By October, that number would hit 75% or more, he added.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said people who were vaccinated with Covid-19 experienced fewer severe symptoms than those without vaccination.

Ong said that of all cases since April 11, about 9% of unvaccinated, infected people needed supplemental oxygen or critical care. Less than 1% of fully vaccinated people who were infected needed supplemental oxygen or critical care, he added.

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