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Covid-19: Bars, entertainment venues in S’pore to be closed; tuition classes and religious services suspended

SINGAPORE — To further reduce the risk of local spread of Covid-19, the Government announced on Tuesday (March 24) a slew of additional safe distancing measures including the closure of all bars and entertainment venues such as cinemas, pubs, night clubs, theatres and karaoke outlets.

To further reduce the risk of local spread of Covid-19, the Government announced on Tuesday (March 24) a slew of additional safe distancing measures including the closure of all bars and entertainment venues such as cinemas, pubs, night clubs, theatres and karaoke outlets.

To further reduce the risk of local spread of Covid-19, the Government announced on Tuesday (March 24) a slew of additional safe distancing measures including the closure of all bars and entertainment venues such as cinemas, pubs, night clubs, theatres and karaoke outlets.

SINGAPORE — To further reduce the risk of local spread of Covid-19, the Government announced on Tuesday (March 24) a slew of additional safe distancing measures including the closure of all bars and entertainment venues such as cinemas, pubs, night clubs, theatres and karaoke outlets.

The measures will take effect from 11.59pm on Thursday and are expected to be in place until April 30. But they may be extended if the situation does not improve, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a press release.

Other public venues such as retail malls, museums and attractions can remain open but they must reduce their operating capacity and “provide an environment that allows at least 1m physical spacing between patrons”, among other mandatory conditions.

All centre-based tuition and enrichment classes will be suspended, in order to reduce the intermingling of students from different schools. Religious services and congregations will also be suspended. Places of worship may remain open for private worship and essential rites, subject to group sizes of not more than 10 persons at any time.

All events and mass gatherings must be deferred or cancelled, regardless of size. Previously, the authorities had required the number of participants to be limited to 250.

Speaking at a press conference, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry taskforce on Covid-19, noted that while public venues are becoming less crowded, “the adjustments are taking place too slowly”.

“The virus will not wait for us. It is continuing to spread,” he said. “It is of great concern that you still hear stories of people gathering together, you still hear anecdotes of people gathering in nightclubs... So we have to make decisive moves.”

On why the Government did not shut schools and “go all the way” into a lockdown like what was done in some other countries, Mr Wong pointed out that the term is being used “very loosely these days, and it means many things to different people”. 

He said: “We have to think of our strategies in different categories. And based on this, at the very baseline level, there are things that we ought to do... even after Covid-19 (outbreak) is over and it will be over at some stage, we have to maintain these standards. For example, things like washing our hands regularly, not using your hands to touch your face.”

On top of these basic practices, there is a range of measures that can be put in place as the situation escalates. “We are talking about a range of a series of measures that can be put in place, or precautionary measures that can be triggered… as and when the need arises,” he said. 

The next level of measures would include suspension of schools and workplaces. “They have to go together… you can close the school, but people need to look after the children. If parents are working, then it’s very hard for them to look after the children and the children will be running around anywhere in the community,” he said. “That's the most drastic step, if you will. That's what I suppose people call a lockdown.”

MOH said the recent spike in imported cases “signalled a new phase in our fight against Covid-19”.

“Many countries have imposed total lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus. Such lockdowns have significantly disrupted lives and economies throughout the world, but were deemed necessary to ease the strain on healthcare systems in those countries,” the ministry said.

“We therefore cannot afford to be complacent in Singapore. We must implement tighter safe distancing measures now to minimise activities and exposure, so as to significantly reduce the risks of seeding new local clusters.”

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Covid-19 coronavirus MOH social distancing

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