Facing a mounting number of Covid-19 cases, dining in has been banned again.

The curbs will start from this Thursday, July 22 to Aug 18, announced the multi-ministry task force on July 20.

Dining-in measures to be reviewed after two weeks. Singapore will also unveil a virus support package in the coming days, which Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said would “take reference” from earlier aid. A prior package cost $1.2 billion, funded by a reallocation of money.

Furthermore, social gatherings are to be capped at two persons, and working home is to remain as the default arrangement.

The tightened measures, which effectively puts Singapore back into a “Phase 2 Heightened Alert”, comes amid the growing spread of Covid-19 cases in the community, particularly, various KTV lounges and wet markets.

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“Given the speed of infections, and the rate that new clusters are growing, we will need to temporarily slow down the spread of the virus to give us time to raise the coverage of our vaccination program, especially among the older population,” Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong said. “Once we have slowed down the new clusters and hit higher vaccination rates, we will be able to continue with our reopening journey.”

More than 85% of Singaporeans aged 60 to 69 have been vaccinated, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said, along with 71-72% of seniors above age 70.

The country had eased some dining-in measures only a few weeks ago and changed the way it reports on progress against Covid-19 to focus on key trends and the number of severe virus cases while dropping detailed information about individual infections.

See also: Singapore must be ready to act as Covid-19 cases spike: Ong

Singapore is carrying out 80,000 vaccinations per day, and 70-75% of those are second doses, authorities said. The country has administered a total of 6.8 million doses as of Sunday, with 48.3% of the population having received both jabs.

Rising threat

The Ministry of Health reported 182 new locally transmitted cases on July 20, of which 135 are linked to a fishery port cluster and 12 to a cluster linked to karaoke lounges. A total of 28 markets and food centres are thus far determined to be linked to the Jurong Port cluster.

There were also 13 imported infections. In total, Singapore reported 195 new cases on July 20, the highest daily tally since July 10, 2020, when 191 infections were detected. 

"Unlike the KTV cluster, which had spread first amongst younger population segments, the current wave of infection affects a wider spectrum of the population including many seniors. At the current rate of transmission, it is likely that infection cases will rise sharply, and many people in the community will catch the virus," said the Ministry of Health.

While more than 240 cases are currently warded in hospital, only five are considered serious and require oxygen supplementation. Just one is in critical condition in the intensive care unit, according to government data. None of the six people were fully vaccinated.

When a “much higher” percentage of the population is vaccinated, Singapore will be able to reopen even with a hundred or more daily cases, said Ong. We’ll “know we can stay safe and allow businesses to continue operating and life can go on.”