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Covid-19: Phase 3 to start on Dec 28, with groups of up to 8 persons allowed, says PM Lee

SINGAPORE — Phase Three of Singapore’s gradual reopening will begin in two weeks’ time, on Dec 28, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced in a televised address on Monday (Dec 14).

Covid-19: Phase 3 to start on Dec 28, with groups of up to 8 persons allowed, says PM Lee

Pedestrians cross a street decorated with Christmas lights in the Orchard Road shopping district in Singapore on Dec 8, 2020.

SINGAPORE — Phase Three of Singapore’s gradual reopening will begin in two weeks’ time, on Dec 28, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced in a televised address on Monday (Dec 14).

With Singapore bringing the Covid-19 crisis under control, the final phase of the planned restart of the economy will feature relaxed capacity limits for public places such as malls, attractions and places of worship.

Groups of up to eight persons will be allowed, for dining out or visiting homes, for example — an increase from the limit of five persons now.

Mr Lee, who spoke before the ministerial task force tackling the coronavirus was scheduled to reveal more details of Phase Three, said that the changes will make it easier to hold family get-togethers during the festive period.

He said that entering Phase Three “means we will end the year with some good news”.

However, he warned that it does not mean Singaporeans should let their guard down and “hold a big party, imagining that the problem is gone”.

“Please understand that even as we enter Phase Three, the battle is far from won. The Covid-19 virus has not been eradicated. There is a long way to go,” he stressed.

When Singapore enters Phase Three on Dec 28, it will have gone through more than six months of Phase Two of the economy’s reopening.

Mr Lee said that the authorities have to take a “calculated risk” of reopening the borders in a controlled and safe manner because trade and travel is Singapore’s lifeblood, although he did not specify a further easing of border restrictions in his speech.

“The longer our borders stay closed to travellers, the greater the risk of us permanently losing out as an international hub, consequently hurting our livelihoods,” he said.

Reopening the borders safely is Singapore’s only option, even as the country risks importing Covid-19 cases and the possibility of these cases spreading the coronavirus to the rest of the community, he explained.

“The Government will take every precaution and do our best to prevent imported cases from triggering a new outbreak. At the same time, Singaporeans must keep our guard up, because the virus is most likely still circulating silently within our community,” he warned.

He noted how the country has managed to buttress its defences against Covid-19, with Singaporeans taking “a tremendous effort and some good luck” to bring the situation under control.

“Today, life is a lot more normal. We go to work, dine out, meet friends, though in groups no more than five.” 

Aside from the stronger testing capacities and procedures, as well as contact-tracing capabilities, Mr Lee highlighted how Singaporeans showed resilience despite the difficult measures needed, and had “complied with the spirit and not just the letter of the rules”.

Imploring Singaporeans to continue their vigilance, he said: “We stayed united, kept up our guard, and did not allow ourselves to become complacent… We can be proud of how far we have come.”

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Covid-19 coronavirus Phase 3 Lee Hsien Loong economy dining

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