Stricter measures that kicked in yesterday and that will last till June 13 have been imposed in the light of a rise in the number of new Covid-19 clusters and unlinked community cases recently. Even as the authorities test people more intensively and try to ring-fence transmissions, a society-wide effort based on stringent restrictions is now needed to stem the spread of cases. Hence the new rules that people will be allowed out in groups of only two, dining in will be prohibited, households should not receive more than two distinct visitors a day, and individuals should continue to cap their social gatherings at two a day. That eateries and hawker centres will offer only takeaway and delivery during this period reflects the need to reduce the higher risk of transmission posed by customers who eat together with their masks off.
These measures are not as strict as those imposed last year when a circuit breaker was triggered as Covid-19 was spreading rapidly. Although worrying, the number of cases this time around is lower. The orderly progress of the current vaccination drive does not promise herd immunity but it is raising the level of individual immunity to the disease. There is also no reason for panic. The long queues at supermarkets islandwide last Friday, as people stocked up on groceries and essentials after the tightened measures were announced, signalled a repeat of last year’s panic buying, which subsided once the authorities, supermarkets and suppliers declared that there were ample stocks of essentials.
The Government has stepped in again with reassurances. Singaporeans must also realise that when they crowd together to panic buy, they not only deprive others, but also endanger themselves by transgressing lines on social distancing. Singapore is doubling down on the external front as well. Now, travellers arriving at Changi Airport from high-risk regions will be segregated from people coming from places with a lower-risk profile. This precaution makes sense as Changi Airport has become the largest active Covid-19 cluster amid the realisation that affected workers were mainly from one zone that received travellers from higher-risk regions.
It is difficult for Singapore to isolate itself clinically from the rest of the world since it depends economically on its global connectivity in essential ways. But the authorities have to balance that ultimate need with the exigency of preventing arrivals from compounding domestic efforts to manage the latest outbreak of the pandemic. Singaporeans need to stop the blame game and make the latest round of measures work by heeding calls to stay and work from home where possible and go out only for essential tasks, and by following advisories. By now, the drill should be clear to everyone: safe distancing, habitual wearing of masks and frequent hand washing.