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Circuit-breaker measures must be taken seriously for Singapore to beat Covid-19: Lawrence Wong

SINGAPORE — National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on Sunday (April 5) urged the public to take the upcoming “circuit-breaker” measures seriously, as on these rests Singapore’s chance of controlling the spread of the Covid-19 disease.

Circuit-breaker measures must be taken seriously for Singapore to beat Covid-19: Lawrence Wong

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong speaking at the multi-ministry task force press conference on April 5, 2020.

SINGAPORE — National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on Sunday (April 5) urged the public to take the upcoming “circuit-breaker” measures seriously, as on these rests Singapore’s chance of controlling the spread of the Covid-19 disease.

Since the Government announced on Friday that most workplaces, except those providing essential services or are in key economic sectors, would have to shut down from Tuesday, Mr Wong said many have asked whether their business is counted as essential, or whether a particular activity would be allowed.

Mr Wong said he understood that the adjustments would be difficult and that it would not be easy as Singaporeans have “set routines and habits”, such as the elderly hanging out in the hawker centres or coffee shops, or the young with their friends in malls.

“All of these cannot be tolerated anymore,” he said.

As for businesses, the “point should be very clear”, Mr Wong said.

“If your business is not in the list of essential services, then you either have to telecommute 100 per cent or you stop work altogether,” he stressed. “There are no two ways about this; it is straightforward.”

Mr Wong was speaking during a press conference held by the Covid-19 multi-ministry task force, where it was announced that two workers’ dormitories have been gazetted as “isolation areas”.

While the Government is focused on containing the spread of the virus within the dormitories, Mr Wong said he was also concerned about the spread of locally transmitted cases.

During the press conference, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong announced that there were 120 new cases of Covid-19 in Singapore, bringing the total number of infections here to 1,309.

This is the highest single-day spike of infections, and also the first time the daily number of newly reported cases has crossed the 100 mark.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post on Sunday that it was “sobering news, but we had expected this possibility”.

This, Mr Lee said, was a reason the authorities decided to implement the circuit-breaker measures.

“With people staying away from workplaces, students on full home-based learning, and everyone following tighter safe distancing rules, the new cases should gradually slow down, and we should get into a better position,” said Mr Lee.

However, for the circuit breaker to be effective, he said that everyone has to “co-operate and comply with the restrictions”.

‘STAY HOME, DO NOT GO OUT’

It was a message Mr Wong took pains to stress at the press conference.

The rules for individuals are clear, he said. “You stay home, do not go out. Go out only for essential activities which will include work that is considered essential or buying food and groceries.”

He clarified that people are allowed to go out to either exercise alone or with immediate family members.

“Other than that, you have to stay home,” he said.

Mr Wong added that it would be impossible to police what people do in their private homes, and the authorities would not know if people decide to have a “little gathering” in their friend’s homes.

However, he called on Singaporeans to “do their part and be responsible”.

“If people don't take this seriously that's the best way to cause the morale of our frontline workers, our healthcare staff, our contact tracers to go down,” he warned.

“They will be completely demoralised at the fact that they are still working so hard, caring for patients, contact tracing every single case, and yet there are groups out there still gathering and completely undermining all that we are doing to combat and overcome the virus.”

For the circuit breaker to be effective, everyone needs to “make individual sacrifices, make these necessary adjustments” Mr Wong said.

“If we all do our part, if we all work together, we have a chance of controlling the spread of the virus and together we will be able to protect ourselves and our family members, and save lives.”

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Covid-19 coronavirus circuit breaker

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