Is Singapore ready for Phase 2 reopening?

Phase 2 of reopening will happen this coming Friday on 19 June 2020. I could feel the palpable excitement in the air when the Ministry taskforce first announced that we are entering Phase 2 on the news.

What’s happening in phase 2 re-opening?

Singapore Circuit Breaker Phase 2 reopening poster infographic deeniseglitz

In phase 2, most retail outlets can resume businesses and people can gather up to groups of 5 while socialising outdoors. Most public spaces like parks will also open except for entertainment centres, clubs and pubs.

Many locals here probably could not wait for life to return to normal. It goes the same for business owners who could not wait to be open to usher in customers and get businesses going. The government, at the same time, also could not wait to reopen Singapore’s economy and keep it going.

But are we ready for Phase 2 re-opening? Is it too soon to enter Phase 2? And will there be a second wave of infection?

We are ready – more so than anything else.

Credit: United Nations COVID-19 Response on Unsplash

In my opinion, Singapore is in a good position to enter phase 2 and maybe even phase 3. We can’t be staying at home and refraining ourselves from mingling with others. The circuit breaker is just a temporary solution to curb the spread of COVID-19 virus. In the long run, the only way to fight against this virus is to practise good personal hygiene and get ourselves vaccinated.

If we have acted earlier, we might not even need to have a partial lockdown in Singapore.

If not for the major outbreak of COVID-19 at the dormitories, I believe that the spread of the virus in Singapore could be contained. And if we have tightened our measures much earlier on, we would not even have to resort to a 2-month partial lockdown or circuit breaker.

When I first wrote the article on ‘ Could Singapore be one of the first to win this COVID-19 battle?‘, I thought Singapore is in the lead. With our efficient healthcare system and effective leaders, we could have easily been one of the first country to win this battle. We usually on our toes and we hardly ever make any mistakes that ruin our reputation. But this time, we had indeed let our guards down.

We are usually one step ahead of everyone else. And I truly thought we would be the most well-prepared country to face this pandemic. It is very unlike them to be adopting this ‘wait-and-see’ or calibrated method approach in such dire situations. But this time, we are probably caught in a difficult spot because we have to choose between health and money. And that begs the question, is the government more concern over our wealth or health.

1. Learning from our mistakes and think ahead

I believe that the government had initially thought the virus could be contained but the growing number of unlink cases proves otherwise. Should we have acted earlier and taken this threat seriously, we might not even have to enter the 2-month circuit breaker period. But what is done cannot be undone. We have tried our best and it is time for us to launch forward. Time and tide wait for no man.

2. Singapore has ramped up its efforts to carry out COVID-19 testing.

More locals are being tested for COVID-19. Channel News Asia has reported that about 30,000 pre-school and early intervention staff have done the COVID-19 swab test. Moving on, more and more people will be getting the swab tests done – including those who display respiratory symptoms.

We probably would not be making the same mistake of letting our guards down during this pandemic. The key to stem out the virus is to actively test the population for the virus and isolate those with COVID-19 from the population as fast as possible.

3. The government is firm with its laws in place.

The police and social distancing officers are patrolling the neighbourhoods to remind citizens to follow the rules. Fines are imposed on those who violate the law.

Now that we are entering Phase 2, I am not sure if the government will continue to remain firm by sending government official bodies or social distancing ambassadors to do regular checks.

But I do know that since Phase 1, the Ministry of Manpower has been sending their officials to carry out inspections on workplaces. They even issued companies composition fines for breaching Safety Management Measures requirements.

4. Life still needs to go on.

As of 17 June, we still have community cases and the numbers of those infected with COVID-19 in the workers’ dormitories are still in the 3-digit range. We have not even reached the stage where zero cases were reported consecutively for days. It seems like we have not stemmed out the virus completely. But life still goes on.

We can’t be staying in isolation for long; as humans, we still that face-to-face interaction. Frontal teaching cannot be replaced fully with home-based lessons. Not every job allows people to work from home. Life will not resume fully back to normal but the earth still revolves. There will be future crises that we have to overcome.

In conclusion…

Credit: Keith Yap on Unsplash

Given our high population density, it will probably take us a couple more weeks or even months before we can declare Singapore as a COVID-19-free nation. The possibility of a second wave of infection is probably lower given that the spread of the virus has slowed down throughout the world. It can be prevented if the nation cooperates with the government and do their part to stay safe.

To achiever a safer Phase 2 re-opening, we all have to work hand in hand and do out part to exercise good hygiene habits and practise social distancing. At the end of the day, it depends on how socially responsible we are when Phase 2 kicks in.

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