Source: CNA

After more than six months, Singapore is now all set to enter Phase 3 of COVID-19 reopening on 28 December, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a televised address to the nation on Monday (14 December).

In this new phase, people will be allowed to participate in public social gatherings of up to eight people, which is an increase from the current five. If that’s not all, households can also receive up to eight visitors.

“So eight people can dine out together, or visit someone’s home. This will make it easier to hold family get-together during the festive period,” PM Lee noted.

He also went on to reveal that Singapore will ease capacity limits in public areas like malls, attractions and places of worship.

“Because of your effort, we are now ready to progress to the next phase. Phase 3 will begin in two weeks’ time, on Dec 28, so we will end the year with some good news,” said the prime minister.

Despite easing the measures, PM Lee reminded the public to not let their guard down as the coronavirus is “most likely still circulating silently within our community”.

“Each of us needs to play our part. By all means, make use of the higher limits and reconnect with friends and family, but please do not abandon your mindset of watchfulness and caution,” PM Lee asserted.

He continued, “This is absolutely not the time to relax and let our guard down or to hold a big party, imagining that the problem has disappeared.”

Speaking of transitioning from Phase 2 to Phase 3, Mr Lee said that it is a “calibrated, careful move”, and the Government is loosening up the restrictions in a controlled manner in order to ensure the COVID-19 situation is stable.

He also urged the public to continue to cooperate with the authorities, and comply with the rules and restrictions in Phase 3.

Reopening borders in a controlled way, because trade and travel are Singapore’s “lifeblood”: PM Lee

PM Lee also said that while international borders will mostly remain closed, the only option for Singapore now is to reopen borders in a controlled and safe manner as trade and travel are Singapore’s “lifeblood”.

“As we do so, we will see more imported COVID-19 cases, and there will be some risk of these cases spreading to the community,” the prime minister cautioned.

As an example, PM Lee highlighted a number of recent cases in the country, especially the infected airport employee who most probably came in contact with passengers with COVID-19, as well as a marine worker who got infected after boarding ships for repair and resupply.

“This is a calculated risk we have to accept but the Government will take every precaution, and do our best to prevent imported cases from triggering a new outbreak,” he noted.

PM Lee also said that the situation has improved now as on most days, Singapore has no locally transmitted cases, as compared to March and April of the year where the country recorded more than 1,000 coronavirus cases a day.

He pointed out that bringing the pandemic under control took “a tremendous effort and some good luck”, adding that defences against the coronavirus are a lot stronger now.

“I am very grateful that Singaporeans have complied with the spirit, and not just the letter of the rules. We stayed united, kept up our guard, and did not allow ourselves to become complacent over time,” he said.

“We can be proud of how far we have come.”

Netizens remain cautioned on entering Phase 3

Over on social media, online users opined that the government’s decision to allow Singapore to enter Phase 3 of COVID-19 reopening is too soon.

Calling it a “wrong move”, netizens said that Singapore is welcoming a new wave of infections, just like what happened in other countries like South Korea and Hong Kong.

Commenting on the Facebook pages of CNA and The Straits Times, some warned that despite entering Phase 3, people should remain careful so Singapore does not suffer from new waves of infections.

On the other hand, a number of netizens stated that there are not many differences between Phase 2 and Phase 3.

They added that the only difference is that the maximum number of people allowed to gather at a time has increased from five to eight.

One user questioned the logic of allowing eight individuals at social events as the sitting capacity at a table is usually 10. He urged the government to allow 10 per table and not eight.

“With 10 pax, we need to have 2 tables of 5 which extra cost will be involved. So where is the logic of 8 and what is the reason for it? Don’t make sense over it. If they dare to ease P3 then let the norm of 10 pax per table to be allowed instead of 8,” he wrote.

Others questioned why the government picked 28 December and not 24 December for the starting of Phase 3.

This is because if Phase 3 is earlier then it would allow people to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones.

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