There were more vehicles and people on the road as Singapore marks its “last day of the circuit breaker”, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Monday (1 June).
The Minister took to Facebook yesterday, stating that the country has largely brought the cases of COVID-19 under control, but the world’s economic situation has “worsened” due to the pandemic.
“The main difference between now and eight weeks ago, is that we have largely brought the spread of the virus under control. But the economic situation, in Singapore and around the world, has worsened, with a deeper recession forecasted,” Mr Heng wrote.
He recalled the time when he was driving to Parliament on the first day of the circuit breaker, describing that the traffic was “light” with only “few pedestrians”.
“I drove to work today, to prepare for the debate on the Fortitude Budget. I took the same route. Traffic was still light. But there were more vehicles and people on the road, perhaps in preparation for the re-opening tomorrow,” Mr Heng noted.
Many Singaporeans have adapted to the circuit breaker, with the new norms of working from home and video conferencing, he hinted, adding that the ability to adapt would be “crucial” in the next phase of the pandemic, including the “economic front”.
Mr Heng went on to say that the Government is dedicating close to S$100 billion to support businesses, households, and frontline industries in battling the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as bolstering the Contingencies Funds with S$16 billion to provide additional ammunition.
Earlier on 26 May, the Minister announced a S$33 billion Fortitude Budget, which is the fourth round of the Government support measures announced for the current financial year, after the Unity, Resilience, and Solidarity Budgets.
“We must remain vigilant, and look out for those around us. We must continue to adapt to the crisis and stay ahead of the curve, so that we can come out of this stronger,” he remarked. “There can be a rainbow at the end of this storm.”
Not all businesses are allowed to open after 1 June, can we consider it as the last day of the circuit breaker?
While many netizens praised the Government’s effort in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, some netizens penned their concerns under the comment section of Mr Heng’s post.
One netizen questioned the Minister’s remark that says “today marks the last day of the circuit breaker”, given that not all businesses are able to operate after 1 June.
“So could we consider as last day of CB?” she wrote.
One netizen hopes that the Government will provide financial assistance to Singaporeans who are aged above 60 and unemployed, as it would be difficult for them to get a job amid the pandemic.
Noting that some Singaporeans do not have enough savings or children to support them, she implored the Government to help this “forgotten category of people” in the solidarity budget.
Another netizen urged the Minister to prioritise Singaporeans who are poor and jobless, so that they could receive financial support sooner as they struggle to survive during such an unprecedented crisis.
Loh Kim Meng went on to suggest the Government to invest in the medical sector after the pandemic, so as to prepare the country in dealing with “deadly and stronger viruses” in the future.
Des Ng commented that although the Government had dedicated almost S$100 billion during the circuit breaker, none of the financial support was given to shareholders and directors who run their own companies. He added that “this category is paying taxes” yet no Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) were provided to them.
“A rainbow at the end of this storm? Well, I see more micro-small companies likely to wind up by then,” he wrote.
Another netizen stressed on “equality”, noting that “everyone is a taxpayer” and should not be divided into categories by the Government. He urged the Government to give out the financial support “earlier” and not wait any longer.