SINGAPORE — The authorities are not ruling out the possibility of a second Circuit Breaker, even as they announced tighter restrictions on Tuesday (4 May) to curb the spread of COVID-19 amid a rise in the number of community cases.
The Ministry of Health on Tuesday confirmed 17 new cases in Singapore, including five local cases in the community, taking the country's total case count to 61,252. All five community cases are linked to the Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) cluster, which now has 40 cases, including one fatality, and is the biggest active cluster.
It is the ninth consecutive day with local cases reported.
Asked by a reporter at a multi-ministry taskforce virtual media conference about the possibility of a second lockdown similar to that implemented from April to June last year, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said, "I think it's important for us to clarify that we have not ruled out the possibility of a Circuit Breaker. Certainly we hope that we won't get there."
Gan, who is co-chair of the taskforce, added, "With the cooperation and support of all Singaporeans, I think we probably will be able to avoid having to get to a Circuit Breaker. (But) we will not rule that out. And that is why we will continue to remain vigilant, monitor the situation and adjust our measures as we go along."
Among the tighter restrictions that will be in place from 8 to 30 May, social gatherings will be capped at five persons per group, while workplace capacity will be cut to 50 per cent. Indoor gyms and indoor fitness or health studios, which are considered higher-risk settings, will also close.
The mandatory use of TraceTogether-only Safe Entry (TT-only SE) will also be brought forward to 17 May for all venues that experience a higher throughput of visitors or where persons are likely to be in close proximity for prolonged periods.
Meanwhile, all travellers with recent travel history to higher risk countries and regions, and who are arriving in Singapore from 11.59pm on Friday will be required to serve a 21-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN).
Also speaking at the conference on Tuesday, taskforce co-chair and Education Minister Lawrence Wong said, "We never rule out the need for tighter measures, or even the possibility that we might have to go back to a Circuit Breaker."
"Based on the assessment of the situation, based on where we think we are today, the clusters that have formed, the cases that we have seen, we think these measures that will bring us all the way back to Phase Two are already a very strong pre-emptive move that potentially, if we do it well, can arrest and snuff out the hidden cases in our midst," he said.
But there is no guarantee that the enhanced measures will be sufficient and the authorities will continue to monitor the situation, he added.
"If new unlinked cases continue to pop up, new large clusters continue to emerge in the coming days and weeks, then certainly we will not hesitate to take even more stringent measures, even the possibility of another Circuit Breaker down the road," said Wong.
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