Singapore has collectively held its breath as it awaited a roadmap for what life would look like once the Circuit Breaker ends and now, we have clarity.
On the evening of 19 May, the local government released a three-phase approach to how measures from the Circuit Breaker will be eased over the coming months, beginning 2nd June. The plan covers reopenings of services, schools and workplaces, and the gradual resumption of small gatherings, both in and out of households. What culminates after the third phase is the establishment of a “new normal” in Singapore that will persist until a vaccine is found for the coronavirus.
As with every government action throughout the Circuit Breaker, information is heavy and questions start to bubble, so let us take you through what to expect from the three phases. We will also answer your (potentially) burning questions about what life will be like once this quasi-lockdown is relieved, now that the answers are in our hands.
What can reopen on 2 June?
Phase 1 is scheduled to start on 2nd June and marks the scheduled end of the Circuit Breaker period. The main objective for this phase is to jumpstart key economic activities that have been put on the back burner, with safety measures still strictly in place.
Employees based in essential production facilities or work in offices where minimal interaction is required can resume operations, though in compliance with rules set in place by the National Environmental Agency here. Home-based businesses are allowed to operate via third-party delivery and collection as well. Schools will begin to reopen to selective cohorts.
Services that will resume include pet grooming, motor vehicle and aircon servicing, as well as hairstyling services beyond mere haircuts.
Does this mean I can stop wearing a mask outdoors?
Can my kids go back to school?
To all the parents that have struggled, good news — schools are scheduled to reopen from 2nd June. Priority is given to preschools and students from graduating cohorts in both primary and secondary levels, with full resumption of classes scheduled on 10 June.
Lest you despair at having to deal with home-based learning every day still because your child does not fit the above bill, relax. All other grade levels will return to school on alternate weeks as per the instruction of the institution, so in-class learning will be combined with e-learning for the time being.
Will I get to see my family, friends or partner again?
Yes, and no. Phase 1 slowly reintroduces household gatherings with restrictions. What this means is that you can visit other households if you are a child or grandchild from that family, and each household can receive only two family visitors a time. Visits are also limited to one a day.
If the curve remains flat after Phase 1, we can optimistically look at Phase 2, where social activities in small groups will be resumed, so you can see your friends and spouse again.
One way to get around this ban is to get married, as solemnisation ceremonies are now allowed in person, involving up to 10 people. Okay, we jest, but isolation engagements are a thing — Google it.
Will restaurants reopen for dining in?
Yes, restaurants are scheduled to reopen in Phase 2, along with other food and beverage establishments (did somebody say, “bubble tea“?) for dine-in options, though with social distancing and crowd control measures in place.
When can we go to the gym or exercise outdoors again?
Phase 2 is when retail outlets, fitness studios, gyms, and sports facilities, both in and outdoor are scheduled to reopen. So yes, get excited to finally be rid of your quarantine bod and come into contact with actual equipment again.
However, there will be strict hygiene measures put in place, along with potential crowd control and social distancing rules. You might not be able to go all out and sweat right next to your gym crew again, but we’ll take what we can get.
For a lowdown on the do’s and don’ts for when your gym reopens, click here.
What else do I need to know about the “new normal”?
While Phase 1 looks to jumpstart the broken circuit with key activities, and Phase 2 begins to reinvigorate our social lives, Phase 3, a.k.a the “new normal”, is where things begin to ease into its rhythms, and activities we have been denied of thus far can resume with limitations in place.
This includes the reopening of cinemas and nightclubs, as well as other activities taking place in enclosed spaces that require contact across an extended duration, such as spas and facial services.
Is overseas travel a possibility in the near future?
News that countries like Spain, Greece and Iceland are looking to reopen their borders and allow for international travel is sparking some vague hope in us all that we will get to board a plane again.
Experts, on the other hand, believe international travel will not return to how it used to be until 2023, given that it is the prime vehicle for COVID-19 to cross and contaminate borders. The future is yet uncertain, but Singapore is in talks with other nations to potentially reopen its borders for essential travel to other countries, with strict safety restrictions remaining in place. Read more about that here.
(Hero and featured image credit: Mike Enerio and Victor He/Unsplash)