Singapore tightens restrictions once more as Covid instances rise

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

Wei Leng Tay | Bloomberg | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s government on Tuesday said it will again tighten Covid-19 measures as new cases continue to rise, complicating the country’s reopening plans.

The measures include reintroducing a ban on dining-in, and limiting the maximum number of people allowed to gather from 5 to 2.

Covid-19 cases in Singapore have been on the rise in recent weeks. Multiple clusters have emerged around karaoke lounges as well as wet markets and hawker food centers, raising authorities’ concerns. Health ministry data showed last week, there were 480 community cases, a significant jump from the 19 reported in the previous seven days.

Given the current rate of transmission, cases are expected to rise sharply as more people will likely get infected.

“This is very concerning, as it can affect many people in our community all over the island,” Singapore’s Ministry of Health said in a statement.

“As we continue to conduct extensive testing for individuals exposed to the risk of infection, we can expect case numbers to increase in the coming days,” it added.

Between July 12 and July 18, there was an average of 46 community cases detected per day — the highest number of cases detected since April 2020, the health ministry said Tuesday.

The latest restrictions will go into effect from Thursday, July 22 through to Aug. 18.

What are the latest measures?

Restrictions that will be re-imposed include:

  • The number of people allowed to gather would be reduced from 5 persons to a maximum of 2 persons.
  • Households will be allowed to receive only 2 distinct visitors each day, not counting grandparents caring for their grandchildren.
  • Dining out will be banned, but restaurants, food courts and hawker centers will be allowed to offer takeaways.
  • Strenuous indoor sports and exercise activities, which typically require masks to be removed, will cease.
  • Large-scale events including live performances and wedding receptions will be scaled down and pre-event testing will remain an essential measure.
  • Work from home remains the default option for most companies.

Tuesday’s measures followed as 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.

Majority of those cases were tied to two large clusters — Jurong Fishery Port, where fishmongers collect their stock to sell at markets and food centers, and the so-called KTV lounges, or karaoke bars — which involve customers socializing with hostesses.

Jurong Fishery Port is closed until the end of the month to try and break the chain of transmission, while workers there have been placed under quarantine.

Singapore banned nightclubs, bars and KTV lounges from operating since last year because activities on the premises are seen as high risk. Some of those establishments, however, continued operating as food and beverage outlets. A number of them are suspected to have breached Covid-19 rules by providing hostess services.

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