The Straits Times
Apr 5, 2020
Life in Singapore will hit something of a standstill from Tuesday, for four weeks till May 4. Singapore is putting in place its most serious ‘circuit breaker’ yet, to pre-empt escalating coronavirus infections. So what can, and can’t, you do for the next one month? Clara Chong has the answers.
If I need to… send my children to school
• All schools and institutes of higher learning will shift to full home-based learning from Wednesday till at least May 4. This means students will log in from home and be taught remotely by their teachers.
• School-based mid-year exams will be cancelled. But national exams like the mid-year O- and A-level mother tongue exams, the PSLE and final-year exams will continue.
… Or enrichment classes
• Face-to-face tuition, music lessons, dance classes, sports training and other such activities will all be put on hold.
If I want to… eat out
• Sorry, dining out is no longer an option.
• While food and beverage outlets will remain open, they can do only take-away and delivery. In fact, you cannot even eat or drink while waiting for your food to be prepared.
• F&B outlets include restaurants, hawker centres, coffee shops and foodcourts. They also include any outlet that has a food licence. This means cupcake shops, coffee chain outlets, bak kwa franchises and bubble tea chains will stay open – but only for take-away.
If I want to… order food in
• Food delivery services are big now, so you might want to download their apps. The big boys are Foodpanda, Deliveroo and GrabFood.
• 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.
If I need to… go to work
• 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 cutting down on physical meetings, staggering working hours and making sure you sit at least 1m away from your colleagues.
If I need to… see a doctor
• 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.
• But if you are planning to get your Botox fix or do your annual health screening, you will have to wait. The Health Ministry classifies these as non-essential services.
• Aesthetics services, outpatient rehabilitation therapy, cataract surgery for stable cataract conditions and traditional Chinese medicine treatments such as acupuncture will not be available.
• Senior befriending and counselling services should be offered remotely.
• You can continue to save lives during the outbreak. Blood donation services remain open.
If I need to… buy groceries
• Do not worry. Wholesale markets, wet markets, supermarkets and provision shops will still be open.
• The food supply chain – including food being flown in, the manufacture of food, as well as abattoirs – will still be operating. There is no need to hoard food.
• But when you go shopping, you must keep a safe distance from others. Follow the markings on the floor, including at wet markets.
• You can also order online. Taxi and private-hire car drivers have been roped in to deliver groceries, although operational details remain unclear.
If I need to… send my children to pre-school
• 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.
If I need to… move around
• For those who drive, some good news: Electronic Road Pricing charges at all gantries will cease from tomorrow 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.
If I want to… visit relatives or friends
• Try to avoid socialising beyond your own household.
• Try not to move from place to place. Reside in one place for now.
• 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.
If I need to… visit someone in hospital
• Ward visitors are allowed but numbers will be controlled. Check the hospital’s website for details or call to check.
• For example, from yesterday, Tan Tock Seng Hospital will allow 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.
If I need to… visit a place of worship
• All places of worship will be 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.
If I need to… attend a funeral
• Funeral-related services will continue, with safe distancing measures.
• All government-managed columbaria will be closed from Tuesday 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.
If I need to… withdraw money
• 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.
If I want to… exercise
• Most sports and recreational centres will be shut.
• Public swimming pools, such as those at the 26 Sport Singapore (SportSG) swimming complexes, will be closed, as will public sports halls and private gyms and fitness studios.
• Country clubs will be closed, and Singapore’s 15 golf courses will be out of bounds from Tuesday.
• Hotels will have to shut their recreational facilities.
• If you live in a condominium, swimming pools and gyms there will also be out of bounds.
• Bowling centres and billiard halls, which had already stopped operating since last month, will remain shut.
• All is not lost. You can still get your exercise by running or walking around the neighbourhood. Head for uncrowded spaces and practise safe distancing when there are more people. Public parks and SportSG’s 17 open-air stadiums remain open.
• To give you an idea of how crowded a park is before heading out, check the National Parks Board’s map.
• There is always the option of working out at home by logging on to fitness classes online.
If I want to… go shopping
• 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.
If I need to… take my pet to the vet
• Veterinary services will be open to provide emergency and non-elective services, including hospitalisation of your pets.
• There is also no need to hoard pet food. Pet supplies stores will be open.
• Do note that you should not be sending your pets for grooming. But you can take them out to parks for runs.
If I want to… take my children out
• Please don’t.
• In any case, all museums and attractions such as the Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and the Science Centre Singapore will be closed.
• Curious minds can continue to explore the digital platforms of these attractions. Find them on their Facebook and Instagram accounts.
• Singapore’s two integrated resorts will also be shut, to varying degrees.
• Marina Bay Sands’ website says it will close the hotel, all attractions, including the ArtScience Museum, The Shoppes, food and beverage outlets, and the casino from Tuesday to May 4.
• Resorts World Sentosa will suspend its casino, Universal Studios Singapore, S.E.A. Aquarium, Adventure Cove Waterpark and Dolphin Island from tomorrow. It also will not take in new guests. But some eateries will remain open for take-away and deliveries. These include Malaysian Food Street, Pizzeria, Osia Steak and Seafood Grill, and Feng Shui Inn.
If I want to… get a haircut or facial
• Hair salons and barber services will be open but only to provide simple haircuts. This means no perming and colouring, which can take hours.
• Outlets that provide services such as facials, beauty treatments, as well as nail salons, will be shut.
If I want to… buy or borrow a book
• Bookstores will be closed.
• So, too, will all 25 public libraries from Tuesday till May 4. 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.
If I want to… gamble
• The two casinos will be closed.
• Singapore Pools is also suspending all lottery draws and shutting its outlets from Tuesday until further notice.
• The Singapore Turf Club, which manages horse racing and betting, will suspend race meetings from Tuesday.
• But 4D lottery draws today will continue as planned. You can collect your prize payments until tomorrow. The prize claim period will be extended and more information on this will be provided later.
If I need to… repair stuff
• Services that provide the repair of consumer electronics and household appliances will continue.
• Hardware stores selling building and maintenance-related equipment and tools will be open.
• Optician services and the sale of optical products will also be available.
If I want to… go on a staycation
• You can’t. 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.
If I want to… go online
• Telcos will continue to operate.
• You will still get your mobile and Internet access and can also watch TV and listen to the radio. The Sunday Times understands that telcos’ outlets will remain open.
If I want to… send a letter
• No change to postal services and mail – and newspaper – delivery.
If I need to… dump trash
• Waste collection and disposal services will continue.