,Singapore

What Singaporeans need to know in the next round of eased restrictions

Several factors, however, will be taken note of before these can be implemented.

The next round of easing measures would include toned down restrictions in three areas—sports, schools, and in family dining—Minister Lawrence Wong said at the Multi-Ministry Taskforce Press Conference.

"One, we are looking at allowing team sports to resume. For example, a group of five people can play football with another group of five people or any other contact sports," Wong said. "Second, we will look at resuming more activities in our schools and institutions of higher learning. Third, we will allow family members from the same household to dine together in [food and beverage] establishments, up to a group of five persons."

Before considering this, however, Wong pointed to three factors that must be considered before the implementation of eased restrictions: the rate of increase in infection, the proportion of infection cases that fall seriously ill, and the occupancy rates in hospitals. 

The weekly infection rate was also another indicator being observed, as this defines the ratio of cases in the past week over the week before. 

“In some ways, it is a very crude measure of what epidemiologists call the reproduction rate or ‘R’, whereby we are using a crude measure of it by measuring the ratio of cases in the past week over the week before. This ratio used to be 1.5, which suggested that cases were doubling every week or so. It has now come down to just above 1, and that means that cases are still increasing but at a slower rate, but because cases are still increasing, it is still resulting in pressures on our healthcare system,” the minister explained. 

The minister also said if further relaxations happened, a rise in cases is to be expected. He cited that ICU beds currently hover at two-thirds of capacity, which could bring problems if it hits full capacity. 

Instead, the minister said that a middle ground approach was being followed by the government, which means being selective in what is opened up. 

“Taking this middle ground approach means that we have to be selective, we have to open up in settings which we assess are more acceptable in terms of risk. How do we do that? We try our best to assess these risks with experts, with our advisors. It will not be perfect, but by and large, where we assess the risks to be not as high, to be within acceptable limits, then we will want to move first, as we have been doing for travel,” said the minister.

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