Lawrence Wong Says Singapore Wants To Ease Measures In Controlled Manner & Avoid Flip-Flopping
Since the pandemic began, Singaporeans have had to grapple with changes to Covid-19 measures every few months or even weeks.
The latest changes just last week included allowing families of up to 5-pax to eat together outside.
Even though we have high vaccination rates, the country hasn’t opened up as much as expected.
Finance Minister Lawrence Wong has noted the frustrations brought about by the constant changes.
However, he pointed out that these changes are inevitable because of how the virus works, and Singapore isn’t the only country that has to grapple with measures changing often.
Lawrence Wong understands frustrations with frequently changing measures
Minister Wong addressed the changing measures during the multi-ministry task force press conference on Monday (15 Nov).
“We understand that it’s not always easy for people to keep track of the changes in our measures, and from time to time, it also creates frustrations because of the perceived flip-flops in our Covid-19 strategy.”
This is why the Government is trying “very hard” to avoid start-stops for measures.
“But I hope everyone understands it is very challenging to do this,” Minister Wong said.
Changing measures not unique to Singapore
He pointed out that Singapore isn’t the only country that’s had to grapple with measures changing frequently.
Many countries in Europe, including Austria, Denmark, and the Netherlands, have seen spikes in Covid-19 cases since they reopened months ago.
As a result, they’re reimposing tighter measures and, in some cases, even partial lockdowns.
Easing measures in “controlled, careful, calibrated” manner
Because Singapore wants to avoid flip-flopping as much as possible, our reopening has been done in a “controlled, careful, and calibrated” manner, Minister Wong said
While we would like very much to move forward with living with Covid-19, he noted the reality is that the virus comes with rolling waves of infection.
“We, therefore, have to adjust our measures based on these waves to protect our healthcare system.”
This must be done until we reach a “stable equilibrium” with the virus, hence the controlled reopening.
Singapore is opening up its borders gradually to more countries, and only for the fully vaccinated.
Events, too, are opening up slowly, with higher limits allowed for gatherings and events.
Frustrations are understandable
Although a promise was that Singapore will move to living with Covid-19 once we get vaccinated, the reality isn’t so simple.
When we tried reopening in August, cases spiked immensely, exceeding 3,000 daily in a short time.
ICUs and hospitals nearly reached capacity during this time, and we switched to home recovery to cope with the increased load.
While we remain in a state where social gatherings are still limited, reopening too quickly may lead to more problems down the line.
So while frustrations are understandable, especially if we travel to VTL countries with fewer restrictions, the approach remains careful and calibrated here.
A further update on the measures will be given early next week.
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Featured image adapted from The Straits Times on YouTube.