Editor’s note: For the latest updates on the easing of circuit breaker measures from May 5, go here.
We thought we were halfway through Circuit Breaker, until the government announced a four-week extension on the circuit breaker period (April 21). In addition, existing measures have been tightened to curb the spread of Covid-19, following a sharp rise in cases in the foreign worker dormitories even as the number of community transmission cases seems to be stabilising.
From restricted entry at some wet markets to the closure of more businesses previously considered “essential”, the new measures take effect from today (April 22) and will last at least until May 4.
When leaving the house for grocery shopping or to exercise, you are advised to go alone and not treat these as family outings. However, it is not an offence if you go out with your immediate family members.
“The spirit of the guidelines is to reduce movement to a minimum and to avoid being out and about in the community. This is the way to protect yourself, your family and everyone else,” PM Lee Hsien Loong said in his address to the nation yesterday.
To help you stay informed and safe, here’s a breakdown of the circuit breaker measures so far. You can also check www.gov.sg for official updates.
Can I still…
Wholesale markets, wet markets, supermarkets and provision shop are still open. The food supply chain – including food being flown in, the manufacture of food, as well as abattoirs -is still operating. There is no need to hoard food.
Things to note:
- Entry to four popular wet markets will be determined by the last digit of your NRIC number or FIN. Those with even last digits (0, 2, 4, 6, 8) will be allowed entry on even-numbered dates, and vice versa. The four markets are: Geylang Serai Market, 505 Jurong West Street 52, 20 and 21 Marsiling Lane & 104 and 105 Yishun Ring Road (Chong Pang Market).
- When you go shopping, you must keep a safe distance from others. Follow the markings on the floor, including at wet markets. Some supermarkets, such as NTUC FairPrice, have introduced crowd control measures. You can check how crowded a mall is in real-time at www.spaceout.gov.sg.
- As it is easy for crowds to form at wet markets, the National Environment Agency (NEA) has these guidelines: Go just once a week; visit the market on weekdays if possible; if you must go on the weekend, make an effort to wake up early to avoid the peak period from 7.30am to 10am.
- It is now compulsory to wear a mask when leaving the house, and you may be denied entry if you don’t wear a mask.
- Vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, should avoid visiting the markets altogether. Other members of the household or neighbours should help them with the shopping.
- You can also order online. Taxi and private-hire car drivers have been roped in to deliver groceries.
No. Previously deemed an “essential service”, all hairdressing and barber services will be closed from April 22 until at least May 4. These had earlier been allowed to provide basic haircuts.
Outlets that provide services such as facials, beauty treatments, as well as nail salons, will remain shut.
As of April 22, standalone F&B outlets that sell only beverages, packaged snacks, confectionery or desserts will have to be closed until at least May 4. They include bubble tea shops that are not located in food courts, and shops that sell cakes or ice-cream like Bengawan Solo and Haagen-Dazs.
These food-related services will remain open:
- Hawker centres, coffee shops and food courts.
- Supermarkets, grocery stores and convenience stores.
- Shops selling mainly hot food, cooked food and breads, such as Old Chang Kee and BreadTalk.
- Cafes like Starbucks and Coffee Bean can keep outlets that serve hot food and cooked meals open, but not outlets that only serve drinks.
Switch to delivery and takeout
Food delivery services are big now, so you might want to download their apps. The big boys are Foodpanda, Deliveroo and GrabFood.
Sadly, McDonald’s has closed all their outlets and suspended services until at least May 4, after seven employees tested positive for Covid-19.
Smaller eateries, hawker stalls and cafes that currently do not offer food on delivery are advised to sign up for a scheme by Enterprise Singapore that will help to lower costs of using online food delivery platforms.
Support eateries and restaurants by ordering from them directly wherever possible.
Until at least May 4, retail laundry services must close their physical stores. However, you can still use their online services.
While social gatherings aren’t allowed, you can still drop by the home of your elderly parents to help them with their daily needs. But you must reduce the amount and frequency of interaction and observe strict personal hygiene. Visit them only when necessary, such as passing them grocery essentials.
This is only allowed if you leave your children with your parents throughout the entire circuit breaker period.
The reason is this: each time you bring your child over, you are exposing your parents to potential infection, and this will happen again and again. Please keep the elderly safe.
Some couples may have trouble with this arrangement, especially those who are essential service workers. These parents can turn to childcare services for essential service workers.
All sports stadiums are closed, as are public swimming pools, public sports halls as well as private gyms and fitness studios. Country clubs are also closed, and Singapore’s 15 golf courses are out of bounds.
If you live in a condominium, swimming pools and gyms there are out of bounds. Recreational facilities at hotels have been shut, too.
Bowling centres and billiard halls, which had already stopped operating since last month, will remain shut.
If you want to exercise, find an uncrowded space in your immediate neighbourhood and practise safe distancing from other people.
Public parks remain open but you should only go there alone or with family members living in the same household. Again, practise safe distancing and go straight home after your walk or run. Don’t meet up with friends there or linger. To give you an idea of how crowded a park is before heading out, check the National Parks Board’s (NParks) map.
NParks has also suspended bookings for events, barbecue pits and camping permits in parks. Neighbourhood playgrounds, fitness corners and dog runs in parks are also closed.
There is always the option of working out at home by logging on to fitness classes online.
No, all beaches will continue to be closed.
All public and private hospitals remain open, as do all general practitioner clinics, polyclinics, offsite specialist clinics and community hospitals. Dialysis services and other renal replacement services will also be open.
Senior befriending and counselling services should be offered remotely.
You can continue to save lives during the outbreak. Blood donation services remain open, but do make an appointment before turning up.
Not allowed: Aesthetic services, annual health screenings, outpatient rehabilitation therapy, cataract surgery for stable cataract conditions and traditional Chinese medicine treatments such as acupuncture.
Ward visitors are allowed but numbers will be controlled. Check the hospital’s website for details or call to check.
For example, Tan Tock Seng Hospital now allows each patient to nominate up to four visitors for the duration of his hospital stay.
You are also advised to wear your own surgical mask when visiting patients in the wards.
Funeral-related services will continue, with safe distancing measures.
All government-managed columbaria will be closed from April 7 to May 4. Installation of urns into niches may continue, with a permit. Choa Chu Kang Cemetery will remain open for burials, and Mandai Crematorium will remain open for cremation services.
Veterinary services will be open to provide emergency and non-elective services, including hospitalisation of your pets.
However, retailers of pet food and pet supplies will be closed until at least May 4, although you can still order online.
You should not be sending your pets for grooming, but you can take them out to your immediate neighbourhood area for runs.
All schools and institutes of higher learning will continue home-based learning till at least May 4. This means students will log in from home and be taught remotely by their teachers.
However, June holidays will start earlier, from May 5, to cover the extended circuit breaker period. School will reopen on June 2.
A one-week mid-term break from July 20 to 26 will break up Term 3.
Changes to exam schedules:
- The O-level and A-level H1 MTL papers 1 and 2 scheduled for June 1 will be rescheduled to June 18, and the O-level and A-level MTL B papers 1 and 2 on June 2 will be shifted to June 19.
- The listening comprehension exam for O- and A-level MTL and MTL B will be rescheduled from July 21 and 22 respectively to July 27.
- Mid-year mother tongue language (MTL) exams will also be moved.
What about pre-schools?
Likewise, all pre-schools will be closed. But parents/guardians who are working in essential services and are unable to find alternative care arrangements will get help in looking after their children. Priority will be given to children of healthcare workers as well as those of low-wage or daily-wage workers employed in essential services.
In addition, selected care services for students such as those in student care centres and special education schools will be open. Parents should approach their child’s pre-school or school for help.
Face-to-face tuition, music lessons, dance classes, sports training and other such activities will all be put on hold.
Optician shops and the sale of optical products can operate by appointment only. Walk-in customers are no longer accepted.
Bookstores and all 25 public libraries will remain closed. All on-site services, including book drops and reservation lockers, will be unavailable as well.
Good news, though: If you have already borrowed a book, loan expiry dates will be extended until three weeks after the library reopens. No overdue fines will be imposed. The library’s digital services will also remain available on its website and app. This means you can continue to borrow e-books and audio books.
Businesses that can run with employees working from home via telecommuting should continue. But if they can’t, they must be closed.
The exception is for businesses that provide essential services. These companies must ensure there are safe distancing measures in place. These include having a system that logs your entry into and exit from the workplace, cutting down on physical meetings, staggering working hours and making sure you sit at least one metre away from your colleagues.
So can your children play basketball, football or tennis in your HDB or condominium courts? Or perhaps windsurf, fly a kite, go fishing or even skateboarding? The answer is no to everything. HDB and condominium courts are closed during this period.
Windsurfing, kite-flying, fishing and skateboarding (unless done as a form of commute) are otherwise considered recreational activities that are not allowed.
The reason: they might attract like-minded participants resulting in the congregation of people from different households – and all this raises transmission risks.
If your air-conditioner is leaking, you may have to live with it for a while as air-con servicing for residential units is considered a “non-essential” activity.
However, hardware stores selling building and maintenance-related equipment and tools will be open.
No, you will have to do the cleaning yourself. Home-cleaning services, including freelance ones, are not permitted to continue.
Yes. Third-party logistics providers, including companies that provide moving services, can continue operations.
All museums and attractions such as the Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and the Science Centre Singapore will remain closed.
Curious minds can continue to explore the digital platforms of these attractions. Find them on their Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Retail therapy can wait, right? In any case, big stores such as Takashimaya and Ikea, as well as boutiques and retail outlets, including chains like Uniqlo and Zara, will be shut.
Hotels are not allowed to accept new guests during this period. Selected hotels – as well as serviced apartments, dormitories and hostels – will continue to be open to house those returning to Singapore who have to be on stay-home notice.
But even in these hotels, all recreation facilities will be shut, and food and beverage facilities can offer only takeaway or delivery services.
Face-to-face social activities are not allowed, such as meeting up with friends and family members you do not live with. Reside in one place for now.
If your parents are looking after your children, you should leave the kids with them for the entire circuit breaker period.
You can still keep in touch with family members and friends through video calls or phone calls.
It is especially important for seniors to stay at home. Singing, dancing and exercise classes at community centres have been suspended, but seniors can keep busy with online programmes.
All places of worship will remain closed. Earlier, services were suspended but they could stay open for private worship for not more than 10 people at any one time.
Where necessary, places of worship may continue to conduct funeral rites, but should involve no more than 10 people at any one time.
Banking services will be available through online channels, ATMs and bank branches, as will services like insurance broking.
But check before you visit a bank. Some branches will be shut or may have changed their opening hours.
No change to postal services and mail – and newspaper – delivery.
Waste collection and disposal services will continue.
While we should stay home as much as possible, there may be occasions when you’ll need to leave the house such as to buy groceries or if you’re working in essential services.
For those who drive, some good news: Electronic Road Pricing charges at all gantries have ceased till May 4. Petrol stations will operate as usual.
You can still travel by taxi or private-hire car – no change there.
Public buses and the MRT will also function as normal.
However, just be sure to take the necessary precautions, like wearing a mask.
If you are facing stress – whether over finances or marital and family tensions – you can soon turn to the National Care hotline. Trained officers can link you with social service agencies and specialised services.
While this is being set up, please check out www.cphonlinecounselling.sg for counselling help relating to marriage, family and divorce issues. It’s free.
Text: Clara Chong and Rei Kurohi/The Straits Times, Additional text: Cherrie Lim & Elizabeth Liew
This post was updated on April 22, 2020.