Singapore to close workplaces, schools in virus fight

Nellie Chapman
April 3, 2020

Singapore government on Friday announced shutdown amid rising cases of coronavirus in the country.

"We have decided that instead of tightening incrementally over the next few weeks, we should make a decisive move now, to pre-empt escalating infections", Lee said in a speech, and promised more support for households and businesses.

Currently, Singapore has recorded 1,114 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection at the time of writing, with 5 deaths reported.

"You can still shop at the supermarket or wet market, and you need not rush to stock up for weeks at a time", Mr Lee added.

However, Mr Lee noted that certain workers such as "foreign workers on construction sites and in shipyards" will not be able to do the same.

Mr Lee said that while parents should keep their children at home from April 8 to May 4 under the new measures, pre-schools will remain open to serve parents who have to continue to work in the essential services or who are unable to find alternative caregiving arrangements.

The government said all preschool and student care centers will also be shut.

Lawrence Wong, minister for national development who co-chairs a task force to fight the virus, said in a press conference the increase in the number of local and unlinked coronavirus cases are "very, very worrying trends". We will therefore impose significantly stricter measures.

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He said the country had enough food supplies to last through this period and beyond.

He urged Singapore to stay at home as much as possible, avoid socialising with others beyond their own household, and confining gatherings to those living in the same household.

People wearing protective face masks walk a Singapore's Changi Airport, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) March 30, 2020.

Lee said the spirit of these measures is to get people to minimize physical contact.

"This circuit breaker will apply for one month, in the first instance", he added.

Mr Lee said this has gone smoothly, with teething issues being resolved.

PM Lee acknowledged that the measures will severely impact businesses and workers.

The Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Bill proposes to temporarily make it an offence for an organisation or individual to take legal action against a party who is not fulfilling his contractual obligations, as long as that party gives notice that his inability to fulfil the contract has been due to the pandemic.

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