Covid-19 Circuit Breaker: Everything You CAN And CAN’T Do In Singapore

Life in Singapore has hit something of a standstill since the circuit breaker began... and has now been extended to 1 June. Here's our up-to-date list of dos and don'ts.
22 April 2020

 (image: Mark Cheong, The Straits Times)

We thought we were halfway through Circuit Breaker, until the government announced a four-week extension on the circuit breaker period.

In addition, existing measures have been tightened to curb the spread of Covid-19, following a sharp rise in cases in the foreign worker dormitories even as the number of community transmission cases seems to be stabilising.

From restricted entry at some wet markets to the closure of more businesses previously considered “essential”, the new measures take effect from 22 April and will last at least until 4 May.

When leaving the house for grocery shopping or to exercise, you are advised to go alone and not treat these as family outings. However, it is not an offence if you go out with your immediate family members.

“The spirit of the guidelines is to reduce movement to a minimum and to avoid being out and about in the community. This is the way to protect yourself, your family and everyone else,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his address to the nation 21 April.

So what can, and can’t, you do until it concludes next month? Here’s our updated list of the circuit breaker measures so far.

(Tip: You can also check Gov.sg for official updates or sign up for its WhatsApp alerts by messaging 8129 0065.)

(image: Jason Quah, The Straits Times)

If I Need to… Send My Children to School

  • All schools and institutes of higher learning will continue home-based learning till at least 4 May . This means students will log in from home and be taught remotely by their teachers.
  • However, for local schools, June holidays will start earlier, from May 5, to cover the extended circuit breaker period. School will reopen on June 2.
  • A one-week mid-term break from 20 to 26 July will break up Term 3.

… 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 Need to… Send My Children to Pre-school

(image: Timothy David, The Straits Times)

  • Pre-schools will be closed, too. But parents/guardians who are working in essential services and 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 My Child is Going to… Graduate

  • Sorry, but if you are a polytechnic or Institute of Technical Education student, there will be no ceremonies for this year’s graduating cohort. But arrangements will be made for diplomas, certificates and transcripts to be delivered to you.

If I Need to… Go to Work

(image: Jason Quah, The Straits Times)

  • 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 are not 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… Get New Eyeglasses

  • Optician shops and the sale of optical products can operate by appointment only. Walk-in customers are no longer accepted.

If I Need to… Take My Pet to the Vet

(image: Jason Quah, The Straits Times)

  • Veterinary services will be open to provide emergency and non-elective services, including hospitalisation of your pets.
  • However, retailers of pet food and pet supplies will be closed until at least 4 May, although you can still order online.
  • You should not be sending your pets for grooming, but you can take them out to your immediate neighbourhood area for runs.

If You’re… Craving for Bubble Tea

  • As of 22 April, standalone F&B outlets that sell only beverages, packaged snacks, confectionery or desserts will have to be closed until at least 4 May. They include bubble tea shops that are not located in food courts, and shops that sell cakes or ice-cream like Bengawan Solo and Haagen-Dazs.

If I Want to… Eat Out

  • Sorry, dining out is no longer an option. These food-related services will remain open:
  • Hawker centres, coffee shops and food courts.
  • Supermarkets, grocery stores and convenience stores.
  • Shops selling mainly hot food, cooked food and breads, such as Old Chang Kee and BreadTalk.
  • Cafes like Starbucks and Coffee Bean can keep outlets that serve hot food and cooked meals open, but not outlets that only serve drinks.

If I Want to… Order Food In

(image: The Straits Times)

  • Food delivery services are big now, so you might want to download their apps. The big boys are Foodpanda, Deliveroo and GrabFood.
  • Just SYK, McDonald’s has closed all its outlets and suspended services until at least 4 May, after seven employees tested positive for Covid-19.
  • 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.
  • Support eateries and restaurants by ordering from them directly wherever possible. For your handy reference, we’ve rounded up dozens upon dozens of hawkers and neighbourhood eateries as well as international restaurants and healthy meal delivery services that are delivery without the delivery platforms.

If I Need to… Buy Groceries

  • Wholesale markets, wet markets, supermarkets and provision shop are still open.
  • The food supply chain – including food being flown in, the manufacture of food, as well as abattoirs – is still operating. There is no need to hoard food.
  • Entry to four popular wet markets will be determined by the last digit of your NRIC number or FIN. Those with even last digits (0, 2, 4, 6, 8) will be allowed entry on even-numbered dates, and vice versa. The four markets are: Geylang Serai Market, 505 Jurong West Street 52, 20 and 21 Marsiling Lane & 104 and 105 Yishun Ring Road (Chong Pang Market).
  • When you go shopping, you must keep a safe distance from others. Follow the markings on the floor, including at wet markets. Some supermarkets, such as NTUC FairPrice, have introduced crowd control measures. You can check how crowded a mall is in real-time at www.spaceout.gov.sg.
  • As it is easy for crowds to form at wet markets, the National Environment Agency (NEA) has these guidelines: Go just once a week; visit the market on weekdays if possible; if you must go on the weekend, make an effort to wake up early to avoid the peak period from 7.30am to 10am.
  • It is now compulsory to wear a mask when leaving the house, and you may be denied entry if you don’t wear a mask.
  • Vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, should avoid visiting the markets altogether. Other members of the household or neighbours should help them with the shopping.
  • You can also order online. Taxi and private-hire car drivers have been roped in to deliver groceries.

If I Want to… Exercise

(image: Chong Jun Liang, The Straits Times)

  • All sports stadiums are closed, as are public swimming pools, public sports halls as well as private gyms and fitness studios.
  • Country clubs are closed, and Singapore’s 15 golf courses are out of bounds.
  • Hotels have shut their recreational facilities.
  • If you live in a condominium, swimming pools and gyms there are out of bounds.
  • Bowling centres and billiard halls, which had already stopped operating since last month, will remain shut.
  • If you want to exercise, find an uncrowded space around your neighbourhood and practise safe distancing from other people.
  • Public parks remain open but you should only go there alone or with family members living in the same household. Again, practise safe distancing and go straight home after your walk or run. Don’t meet up with friends there or linger. To give you an idea of how crowded a park is before heading out, check the National Parks Board’s (NParks) map.
  • NParks has also suspended bookings for events, barbecue pits and camping permits in parks.
  • Neighbourhood playgrounds, fitness corners and dog runs in parks are also closed.
  • There is always the option of working out at home by logging on to fitness classes online (or try these fitness apps).

If I Want to… Chill Outside or Go to the Beach

  • So can you play basketball, football or tennis in your HDB or condominium courts? Or perhaps windsurf, fly a kite, go fishing or even skateboarding? The answer is no to everything. HDB and condominium courts are closed during this period.
  • Windsurfing, kite-flying, fishing and skateboarding (unless done as a form of commute) are otherwise considered recreational activities that are not allowed. The reason? They might attract like-minded participants resulting in the congregation of people from different households – and all this raises transmission risks.
  • As for beach combing or making sand castles, you’ll have to wait – all beaches will continue to be closed.

If I Want to… Take My Children Out

(image: Gavin Foo, The Straits Times)

  • 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 4 May.
  • 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… 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 Shopping

(image: Desmond Foo, The Strait Times)

  • 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… 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… Get a Haircut or Facial

  • Cannot. Previously deemed an “essential service”, all hairdressing and barber services will be closed from 22 April until at least 4 May. These had earlier been allowed to provide basic haircuts.
  • Outlets that provide services such as facials, beauty treatments, as well as nail salons, will remain shut.

If I Want to… Buy or Borrow a Book

  • Bookstores will be closed.
  • So, too, will all 25 public libraries from Tuesday till 4 May. 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… Visit My Elderly Parents to Help Them with Their Daily Needs

  • While social gatherings aren’t allowed, you can still drop by the home of your elderly parents to help them with their daily needs.
  • But you must reduce the amount and frequency of interaction and observe strict personal hygiene.
  • Visit them only when necessary.

If I Want to… Let My Elderly Parents Take Care of My Children on a Daily Basis

  • This is only allowed if you leave your children with your parents throughout the entire circuit breaker period.
  • The reason is this: each time you bring your child over, you are exposing your parents to potential infection, and this will happen again and again. Please keep the elderly safe.
  • Some couples may have trouble with this arrangement, especially those who are essential service workers. These parents can turn to childcare services for essential service workers.

If I Want to… Visit Relatives or Friends

  • For now, there’s to be no socialising beyond your own household. Reside in one place for now.
  • If your parents are looking after your children, you should leave the kids with them for the entire circuit breaker period.
  • You can still keep in touch with family members and friends through video calls or phone calls. (Here’s our guide on how to be safe on videoconferencing apps.)
  • It is especially important for seniors to stay at home, as noted above. Singing, dancing and exercise classes at community centres have been suspended, but seniors can keep busy with online programmes.

If I Need… Help for the Anxiety I’m Feeling

  • If you are facing stress – whether over finances or marital and family tensions – you can turn to the National Care Hotline (6202 6868). Trained officers can link you with social service agencies and specialised services. (This story gives helpful mental health advice and more helplines, too.)
  • You can also check out www.cphonlinecounselling.sg for free counselling help relating to marriage, family and divorce issues.

If I Want to… Visit a Place of Worship

(image: Gin Tay, The Straits Times)

  • 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… 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, Tan Tock Seng Hospital now allows 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… Attend a Funeral

  • Funeral-related services will continue, with safe distancing measures.
  • All government-managed columbaria will be closed from Tuesday to 4 May. 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… Move Around

  • For those who drive, some good news: Electronic Road Pricing charges at all gantries have ceased from till 4 May. 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 Need… Help to Clean My House

If I Need… Visit the Dry Cleaner

  • Until at least 4 May, retail laundry services must close their physical stores. However, you can still use their online services.

If I Need to… Have My Furniture or Computer Delivered

  • While physical stores must be closed, they can fulfill online orders, still can come and deliver and set up – but they must comply with stringent hygiene and safe distancing practices and leave the premises once the job is completed.
  • Delivery and installation services can continue but the people doing this must comply with health and safe distancing advisories. These include wearing masks at all times, minimising contact and interactions with others throughout and complying with the 1m safe distancing measure.
  • If items require on-site installation, those doing it must adhere to these guidelines and leave the premises once the job is completed.
  • The number of staff involved should be kept to a minimum.

If I Want to… Gamble

(image: Kua Chee Siong, The Straits Times)

  • 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

  • If your air-conditioner is leaking, you may have to live with it for a while as air-con servicing for residential units is considered a “non-essential” activity.
  • Hardware stores selling building and maintenance-related equipment and tools will be open.

If I Want to… Send a Letter

(image: Kua Chee Siong, The Straits Times)

  • No change to postal services and mail – and newspaper– delivery.

If I Need to… Dump Trash

  • Waste collection and disposal services will continue.

If I Need to… Move House

  • You can go ahead. Companies like those providing moving services can continue operations.

If I Need to….Repair My Car

(image: The Straits Times)

  • Routine servicing and minor works are out. But if your vehicle breaks down or is in an accident, towing, recovery and repair work continues.
  • By the way, if your car is due for its inspection, this has been suspended for now, says the Land Transport Authority.

By Clara Chong, Text adapted from The Straits Times / Additional Reporting: Sara Lyle Bow, April 2020

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