Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat will announce further financial assistance for businesses and workers next week (26 May) at 3.30pm in Parliament amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
This financial aid is for those who will not be able to resume activities right after the circuit breaker ends on 1 June, Mr Heng, who is also the Finance Minister, said in a Facebook post on Tuesday (19 May).
“I understand the disappointment of some businesses and workers who will not be able to resume activities immediately when the circuit breaker ends. For these workers and businesses, the Government will help tide you over this period of continued closure,” he wrote.
Singapore’s circuit breaker measures kicked in on 7 April and was scheduled to end on 4 May, but it was further extended till 1 June as the number of COVID-19 cases continued to soar.
Mr Heng had earlier announced support measures to ease the burden of businesses, workers and households through the COVID-19 outbreak during his Unity Budget speech in February, Resilience Budget speech in March as well as Solidarity Budget speech in April.
The Minister’s speech next week will be published on the Singapore Budget website after delivery. There will also be live television and radio coverage.
In Mr Heng’s Facebook post, he also mentioned that the number of new community cases in the country is in the low single-digits, and the Government’s “surveillance shows that the number of undetected cases in the community is small”. He also added that new cases among migrant workers living in dormitories has also “stabilised”.
As such, the country is now all set to re-open some of its economic and social activities. However, Mr Heng warned that this has to be done “cautiously and gradually” as we don’t want to repeat the same mistakes done by other countries.
“If we re-open too quickly, we risk new waves of infection, which could be even more disruptive to lives and livelihoods. As announced by the Multi-Ministry Taskforce, we will be resuming social and economic activities in phases, with additional safeguards in place,” he wrote.
The Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced on Tuesday that Singapore will exit its Circuit Breaker period next month but there will be a controlled approach to resume activities safely over three phases. Phase One of the re-opening plans will be implemented from 2 June 2020.
Economic activities that do not pose high risk of transmission will be first resumed while social, economic and entertainment activities that carry higher risk will remain closed.
Adapt to new lifestyle
Mr Heng also noted in his post that medical experts have expressed that this “smart and agile” coronavirus will continue to be in our lives for some time. Therefore, it is important for everyone in Singapore and the global community to not “let our guard down,” Mr Heng pointed out.
“Some of the safe distancing measures will be here to stay. COVID-19 is changing our way of life and livelihoods. We must recognise that it is important for all of us to adjust our lifestyles and adapt our business models.
“I thank everyone in Singapore for your understanding and cooperation, as well as for your mutual care and concern for one other during this circuit breaker. Let’s continue to stay vigilant and civic-minded in the months ahead,” he concluded.