Singapore tightens measures for the unvaccinated, says will take 3-6 months to new norm

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  • Singapore’s trade minister and co-chair of the government’s coronavirus taskforce, Gan Kim Yong, told a briefing on Saturday that people who have not been vaccinated will no longer be allowed to enter malls.
  • He said that even those vaccinated will now be subject to the limit of two people when entering malls.
  • Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong predicted that it would take three to six months for living with COVID to become the “new normal”.

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SINGAPORE – Singapore announced on Saturday that it would further tighten COVID restrictions for unvaccinated people, as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong predicted it would take three to six months for living with COVID to become the “new normal”.

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Singapore’s health ministry said the move was aimed at protecting people who have not been vaccinated.

Singapore’s trade minister and co-chair of the government’s coronavirus taskforce, Gan Kim Yong, told a briefing on Saturday that people who have not been vaccinated will no longer be allowed to enter malls. He said that even those vaccinated will now be subject to the limit of two people when entering malls.

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Non-vaccinated people will not be allowed to dine in coffee shops and food centers – open-air food establishments in the country where they were previously allowed to do so, limited to two people per table.

Those restrictions will come into effect from Wednesday.

In a speech on Saturday, Lee detailed when Singapore’s “new normal” could happen.

“How do we know when we will reach the new normal? This is when we can relax restrictions, just light up [safe management measures] in place, and cases remain stable – maybe hundreds a day, but not increasing,” Lee said. “When our hospitals can go back to business as usual, when we can start those things again are what we used to do, and watch the crowd again without worrying or feeling awkward.”

He urged the nation not to be “paralyzed by fear” and said that “sooner or later, every one of us will meet the virus – that means all the elderly will also meet the virus.”

He said regions like Europe reached the state, but “paid very dearly for it” with many people losing their lives.

“It will take us at least three months and maybe six months to reach this new benchmark,” Lee said.

Singapore had maintained a zero-Covid strategy for the most part of the pandemic, but began to open up after the population’s vaccination rate exceeded 80%. As of 7 October, 83% of the population has completed two doses of a COVID vaccine.

But after the easing of restrictions, the number of cases started accelerating, reaching daily record highs in the past few days and above 3,400.

Authorities in Singapore re-tightened COVID measures last month to slow community transmission and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. They reduced the group size for social gatherings from five to two, and set work-from-home as the default, encouraging vulnerable populations such as the elderly to stay home as much as possible.

As of Friday, the total number of infected is 120,454 with 142 deaths. However, according to the country’s health ministry, 98.4% of infected people had no symptoms or mild symptoms in the last 28 days.

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