SINGAPORE – Going back to tighter Covid-19 restrictions will help slow the spread of infections and prevent the prospect of multiple subclusters forming around every market and food hub, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Tuesday (July 20).
The tightening will also provide time for more people to be fully vaccinated, especially seniors who have not yet been vaccinated and are most at risk, he added in a Facebook post.
“We are all disappointed by this step back, but Covid-19 is a formidable enemy. We need to feel our way forward and be prepared for setbacks along the way,” he said.
The multi-departmental task force for Covid-19 announced in a virtual press conference on Tuesday that Singapore will return to phase two (heightened alert).
Among other measures, indoor mask-off activities and classes in gyms and fitness studios will not be allowed during this period.
The measures come after a spike in Covid-19 cases in the community was linked to a cluster in Jurong Fishery Port, which has spread to 28 markets and food centers, and the number is still rising, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said. The cluster is also linked to a large one that has spread throughout the KTV lounges.
Prime Minister Lee said it was unfortunate that the clusters of KTV and Jurong Fishery Port have spread to many markets and food centers.
That’s why the task force announced the return to phase two (heightened alert) from July 22 to August 18, with dining to stop again and group sizes limited to two, he said.
“This tightening will help slow the spread of cases. We hope to prevent multiple subclusters from breaking out around every market and food hub, like what happened around the Bukit Merah View Market.”
PM Lee added that good progress has been made with vaccination. “Three quarters of us have had at least our first shot, while half have had both. We are much safer now than we were six months ago,” he said.
“In four weeks, if all goes well, our vaccination rate should be much higher and we should be able to relax the measures. We are not yet completely in the new normal, but we are steadily getting there.”
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Lee visited places in Teck Ghee and Cheng San where residents could get rapid antigen testing kits. He said regular testing is an important strategy in the fight against Covid-19.
The health ministry said Monday it would work with the People’s Association to distribute the self-test kits to people who had visited selected markets and food centers in the past 14 days.
The collection will run until Wednesday at residents’ committee centers near four market and food centers, including Haig Road and Geylang Serai.
Read next: What you need to know about Singapore’s Covid-19 rules from 22 July 22