(Singapore, June 1, 2020)Starting from tomorrow, Singapore will allow more businesses to open after two months of sweeping workplace shutdown but the society will remain pretty much the same as during the circuit breaker.

The government will require workers to continue working remotely as much as possible. And a third of the city-state’s workers are expected to return to their offices starting Tuesday. Businesses in high-risk settings, such as retail outlets, will remain closed.

Schools will reopen the same day, but only graduating students will return full time. Other cohorts will rotate weekly between the classroom and home-based learning. In general, students and teachers will be required to undergo daily temperature screenings and wear masks.

“We will continue to monitor the situation, particularly over the first two weeks of June,” said Minister Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the Multi-ministry task force, noting that as the Republic embarks on Phase 1, about 75% of the economy is resuming operations.

He said if the community transmission – if infection rates over these two weeks remain low and stable – then the government will decide by the middle of June on whether it wants to take the next step to move to Phase 2, and that means Phase 2 could happen before the end of June.

Broadly speaking, Phase 2 will entail the resumption of a wider range of activities, and the government expects almost the entire economy to reopen by the start of Phase 2. The broad items that we are looking at for the resumption of activities in Phase 2 will include, for example, retail shops and consumer services. It will include dining-in at F&B outlets, but subject to a cap of 5 people.

It will include the opening of sports facilities and more public venues, including stadiums and swimming pools. It will include allowing social interactions and family visits, again subject to this group size cap at 5 people. There will be activities in higher-risk settings which we will have to look at more carefully.

These are typically activities or venues with large gatherings of people or close contacts of people in enclosed spaces. They will include places like museums, libraries, cinemas and theatres, religious functions.

They will also include venues like bars, pubs, clubs, and discos. All of these venues and settings, based on our experience and overseas experience, have had instances where there have been cases of transmission in such settings.

“What we will do is, we will begin conversations and discussions with businesses and organizations across these different settings on the safeguards and safe management measures that will be needed,” he said.

“Subject to these measures being in place, we will then discuss with the entities on the precise timing of when they can resume activities within Phase 2,” the Minister added, noting that they may not all resume at the start of Phase 2; but if they have the safeguards and precautions in place, they could resume later but still within Phase 2.

“In parallel, while we talk about reopening of these activities in our community, we are also continuing with conversations and work on reopening our borders – establishing travel bubbles with countries where the virus situation is under control and having safe green lane travel arrangements with specific countries.”

The idea is to have clear protocols in place that would include testing of travellers from one country to Singapore and vice versa. With these testing protocols in place, the country can have assurance that the traveller is free from infection and then essential travel can then resume; step-by-step, depending on the countries that we have established these green lanes, or travel bubbles, with, he said.