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Singapore to start easing Covid restrictions as daily infections fall

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A woman, wearing a face mask as a prevention against Covid-19 walks along the promenade at Marina Bay in Singapore on May 4, 2020.

Roslan Rahman | AFP | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s government on Thursday said it will start easing Covid-related restrictions as the number of daily infections has declined.

The Southeast Asian country last month tightened social-distancing measures to curb a rise in local Covid-19 infections. Those measures, which include no dining-in at food and beverage outlets and smaller social gatherings, were in place since mid-May.

Starting Monday, Singapore will allow social gatherings of five people — an increase from the current two-person limit.

Limits on event attendees and operating capacity at venues such as public libraries and museums will also be relaxed, the government said.

We will have to learn to live with the virus and then try our best to minimize transmission and minimize the risk of large clusters breaking out.

Lawrence Wong

Singapore Finance Minister

There will be further easing of restrictions from June 21. Activities such as dining-in, as well as some mask-off activities at gyms and fitness studios, will be allowed to resume with some social-distancing measures in place.

However, work from home will remain the default for those who can do so, said the government.

Local infections in Singapore have fallen to single-digit levels in recent days. Overall, the country has reported more than 62,000 cases since early last year with 34 deaths as of Wednesday, health ministry data showed.

But Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs Singapore’s Covid taskforce, said the country must be prepared to see more cases as it opens up. He added that the country has to continue with its vaccination and testing effort to mitigate large clusters of infections within the community.

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“We will have to learn to live with the virus and then try our best to minimize transmission and minimize the risk of large clusters breaking out,” Wong said at a media briefing Thursday.

Vaccination progress

Singapore said around 2.5 million people have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. That’s about 40% of the population.

From Friday, the country will allow those from 12 to 39 years old to register for vaccination.

Wong said Singapore aims to have 50% of its population fully vaccinated by August. By October, that number would reach 75% or more, he added.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said vaccinated people who get Covid-19 have suffered less severe symptoms than those without vaccination.

Ong said that of all the cases since April 11, around 9% of unvaccinated, infected people required supplemental oxygen or intensive care. Less than 1% of fully vaccinated people who were infected needed supplemental oxygen or intensive care, he added.

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