Singapore moved to Phase Two of its three-phase reopening strategy yesterday.
This meant the government has determined that community infection rates remain stable, there are no new large clusters, and the cases in worker dormitories – which blew up Singapore’s infection rates to the tens of thousands* – have declined.
The country has been on a partial lockdown since April 7, a.k.a. a “circuit breaker” period. While groceries and pharmacies remained open throughout, almost everything else was shut. The public buses, on those rare days I had to go to office, were nearly empty. Singapore’s famous hawker food centres and kopi stalls were left to rely on takeaways and deliveries. Even the nation’s beloved bubble tea shops were told to close, triggering a mad rush for a boba fix the evening before the circuit breaker kicked in.
Everyone (my family included) is much more excited about this phase than the last. Phase One, which started earlier this month, focused mainly on getting the schools safely open (with extensive Covid-19 testing of all teachers and school staff beforehand) and resuming a few basic services.
Phase Two, on the other hand, has physical stores, parks, playgrounds, and public pools open. We can now dine out at restaurants again! They’ve allowed groups of up to five outside – albeit with multiple caveats in place, such as mandatory temperature screens, check-in by mobile app and QR code to all the places we visit, a requirement to mask on at all times. (This being Singapore, there is the threat of a fine or worse, for non-compliance.) In the wider scheme of things, I think these are small inconveniences.
We went outside for a short walk last night. It was the first time we’d gone out as a family together in nearly three months. My kid was thrilled. I even heard him say “I love walking!” at one point.
Walking freely. Holding hands. Small inconveniences I’ll happily trade for these small joys.
Think critically dear readers,
* Deaths, meanwhile, have remained low – 26 as of today or 0.06% of total cases.