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All your questions about Singapore’s “circuit breaker” for COVID-19 answered

Update: As of 21 April 2020, PM Lee Hsien Loong has announced that the Circuit Breaker period will be extended another four weeks, ending on 1 June. Apart from the cessation of some essential businesses (pending confirmation), all other circuit breaker protocols remain as usual.

So, the inevitable has happened. Singapore is in lockdown in all but name. Enter the circuit breaker, which is now slated to last up to 1 June 2020.

A public address by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has resulted in “circuit breaker” measures that are tightened to curb the spread of COVID-19. After announcing DORSCON Orange, then taking it a step further by shuttering entertainment venues, the Singaporean government has finally had to cave in to the inevitable after the nation passed 1,000 confirmed cases.

With this dramatic, albeit temporary, change in our day-to-day life, panic can ensue, and fear-mongering feeds into that panic. We guarantee your Whatsapp groups are going to start getting notifications like doomsday is tomorrow, with all manner of intel. That one aunt you know that takes great joy in fake news? This is her moment to thrive. We don’t want you to get sucked into that. Singapore is pretty much in lockdown mode, you need to make adjustments, so education is your best ally right now.

What does this “circuit breaker” entail? Can you still get groceries? Can you still get your Deliveroo order or have your takeout from a local restaurant in order to #savefnbsg? Are you still going to be able to get that crate of wine you so desperately need? How about going to the gym, the office, the post office or the mall? Breathe. We have the answers.

The TL;DR of PM Lee’s address

PM Lee
Photo credit: PM Lee

In case you missed it, here is the main takeaway from the Prime Minister’s address (rewatch it here). Moving forward, Singapore will be easing into this state of lockdown. Other points from his talk include:

  1. It’s time to stay home. And when we say stay home, we don’t mean you still get to go out when you feel like it. Minimise any outside interaction unless necessary. If you need to leave the house, do so alone.
  2. Schools and other learning institutions to be closed from 8 April 2020. All education to be done via e-learning. Parents, get ready to have your kids at home 24/7. Be kind to them.
  3. Work from home is mandated for all non-essential businesses starting next Tuesday. Key economic sectors and essential businesses to remain open. Tell your boss.
  4. Malls, museums, gyms, department stores and other non-essential businesses may close until further notice.
  5. F&B establishments are still open, though only for takeout and delivery. Be nice to your delivery riders.
  6. No gatherings or interactions beyond your household. Seriously, stay home.
  7. A task force will be deployed to help maintain social distancing in the form of Social Distancing Ambassadors. Fines will be implemented for breaches.
  8. If you must go out, wear a mask and “keep your droplets to yourself”. Quotable quote courtesy of PM Lee. Again, fines will be implemented if you don’t have a mask on.

A quick Q&A

What is an essential business? Will I get to hashtag #WFH on all my social media posts now?

what is an essential business
Photo credit: Ministry of Trade & Industry SG

Let’s all put it together for the Ministry of Trade and Industry Singapore for getting this handy infographic together. If your job does not fall into the categories above, then sorry, it is a non-essential occupation. We hope you’ll be productive if you get to work from home. Bust out those sweatpants and don’t forget to put on a shirt for those con calls.

We do understand, however, that jobs can be uncertain for many, WFH or not. To find out more about the government’s assistance schemes, click here. More will be updated after an address by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in the coming days.

So, can I still get groceries? Can I gloat for choosing not to panic buy?

singapore lockdown
Photo credit: Scott Warman/Unsplash

Yes, good on you for not panic buying, you superior and intelligent being. Amidst current restrictions, you will still be able to go to the grocery store as an individual; do your best to stay out of going in a group. Social distancing is to be practised in the supermarket, and you should not buy more than you need. Resist the urge to stockpile, you do not require that much toilet paper or rice. Seriously.

Alternatively, there are online grocery platforms such as Redmart and NTUC that will have its stock consistently replenished. Wet markets will remain open as well. Try to buy supplies for a week so you can minimise going to the store regularly.

How about food? Can I still get meals delivered? I need to #SaveFnBSG.

singapore restaurants help healthcare
Photo credit: Michael Browning/Unsplash

Apart from learning how to cook and make your own cocktails, local establishments will convert to being open for takeout and delivery only. If you’d like to contribute to saving a local restaurant or bar, which needs your help more than ever, click here for our resources.

How about wines and spirits? This pandemic has me parched.

Lyon Wine Tastings online course

You can still order alcohol from major supermarkets that sell it, as well as the restaurants that are putting their wine selection up for delivery. Pre-batched cocktails are also available from the bars on this list.

(Side note, alcoholism is serious business and can exacerbate during a shut-in. If you need help, contact the Singapore AA here.)

Will public transport and private hire driving services still run? What if I have to go to the hospital?

Yes, private and public transport will still run, but you are not encouraged to utilise it unless strictly necessary.

Can I still go to the gym? Couch potato is not my look.

Sorry, no gym for you. It’s time to embrace bodyweight exercises and yoga for now or utilise what you have around the house to conduct home workouts. We have some for you to do here.

You can, however, exercise in the neighbourhood park, although at a safe distance from others.

Can I still cut my hair, get a facial or get my nails done? I’m sorry for needing to look pretty during pandemonium.

Unfortunately, beauty treatments are about to become a luxury for a little while as we all aid in bolstering the circuit breaker. If you really must pamper yourself, we have recommendations for at-home masks here. Hairdressers too, will close.

Will I still receive mail and packages from couriers? I have Amazon/Sephora/Book Depository/ASOS orders that my life depends on.

Yes, the post is an essential business and so are delivery couriers. Your parcel will arrive unless the seller’s country has issued a border lockdown. Being stuck at home means you never have to reschedule DHL or NinjaVan ever again. Small joys!

All your questions about Singapore’s “circuit breaker” for COVID-19 answered

Beatrice Bowers

Features Editor

Beatrice Bowers writes about beauty, drinks, and other nice things. When not bound to her keyboard, she moonlights as a Niffler for novels and can be found en route to bankruptcy at your nearest bookstore. Don't tell her boss.

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