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Singapore to sync reopening with vaccination: Lawrence Wong

Lim Hui Jie
Lim Hui Jie6/18/2021 04:06 PM GMT+08  • 3 min read
Singapore to sync reopening with vaccination: Lawrence Wong
Singapore will sync its reopening to vaccination rate with two milestones, according to MTF co-chair Lawrence Wong
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Singapore will sync its reopening of business and social activities with its vaccination rate, and will reopen up more as vaccination rates increase.

This was announced by the country’s Multi-Ministry Task Force (MTF) on June 18, as it announced a loosening of restrictions from June 21.

See more: Singapore to allow dining in from 21 Jun with 2 persons per group, extends more support to businesses

At the press conference, MTF co-chair Lawrence Wong said that in reopening, there are two schools of thought.

“One school of thought is that we should push back the reopening to a much later date, until we have cases that are near zero consistently for many days.” Wong said.

But he added this is very hard to achieve, and “almost impossible” to achieve, given how transmissible the Delta variant (formerly known as the B1617.2 variant) is.

If Singapore were to do this, there will be restrictive measures in place for many months, which will cause many businesses to fold and is not a “realistic option”, Wong pointed out.

Wong then said another school of thought is that “this [Covid-19] is going to be endemic, our infection rates in Singapore are very low compared to many other places which have already opened up more aggressively. On top of that, we already have vaccines in place now, so let's just proceed as planned to continue to ease up and relaxed measures and not overreact to each and every new cluster.”

But he highlighted that Singapore’s vaccination rates are not high enough for that yet. Singapore only has 49% of its population who had at least one dose of the vaccine, while just 35% are fully vaccinated.

Wong then said Singapore is looking at two milestones, one when 50% of the population is fully vaccinated, which he thinks can be done by August, and another when 75% of the population is fully vaccinated.

“We'll do everything we can to do so we can ramp up [vaccinations], and perhaps achieve these milestones earlier, and in accordance to the two milestones, we will progressively ease the restrictions and measures both within Singapore and at our borders,” he added.

Wong also revealed that the government is “developing a broader set of reopening plans beyond what we have highlighted here today. It will be tied to our vaccination program, but the assurance is that as we get our vaccination rates higher, we will be able to confidently reopen, not just within Singapore but also at our borders.”

At the press conference, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung also said that lockdowns and “circuit breakers” are not sustainable for businesses and that these “cannot go on forever.”

Ong pointed out that Singapore’s economy and the competitiveness and viability of Singapore depends on us being able to be connected with the world.

“People must be able to invest in Singapore, visit us from time to time, businesses must be able to forge deals, meet each other. Students can [come for] exchanges, and all this makes Singapore thrive and allow us to have a good livelihood. At some point, and in the very near future, we must be able to revive that.”

Photo: MCI

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