Singapore extends circuit breaker until 1 June, Malaysia yet to decide on extension
Singapore will extend its COVID-19 “circuit breaker” period by four weeks until 1. In a televised address to the nation, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Lee said that the aim is to decisively bring down the number of coronavirus cases in the community. Mr Lee said that Singapore will implement stricter circuit breaker measures such as closing more workplaces and imposing entry restrictions on “hotspots” such as popular wet markets.
Under the circuit breaker rules that kicked in on 7 April, only essential businesses are allowed to operate. But the list of such businesses will be further trimmed, so that only “the most essential services” will remain open, said Mr Lee. “This will reduce further the number of workers keeping essential services going, and minimise the risks of transmission among the workers,” he explained.
Explaining the need to extend the circuit breaker period, Mr Lee said Singapore will not be able to completely lift the restrictions after May 4 and go back to business as usual. “We will therefore extend the circuit breaker for four more weeks beyond May 4, in other words until June 1. Then, provided we have brought the community numbers down, we can make further adjustments and consider easing some measures,” he said. Singapore on Tuesday reported 1,111 new cases of COVID-19.
In Putrajaya, director-general of Health, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (pic) said the government has yet to decide on whether to extend the movement control order (MCO) when the third phase ends on 28 April 28. He said that the government was still monitoring data on a daily basis to ascertain whether there was a need to extend the MCO, which came into force on March 18. Dr Hisham outlined six criteria that needed to be considered. Among them was ensuring there was border control via screening and placing Malaysians returning from abroad under quarantine. The second was to see how effective the MCO had been, he said. “Third is our health system. We should reduce the time taken for polymerase chain reaction screenings. “Fourth, we also need to enforce laws to protect those who are at high-risk such as the disabled, chemotherapy patients and those with serious diseases.“ The fifth criterion, said Dr Noor Hisham, is the need for Malaysians to incorporate the new normal in their daily lives — social distancing, washing your hands and avoiding public gatherings. “Sixth, the health ministry must be able to work together with the community to enforce preventative measures in the community concerned, ” he said.