Migrant workers paint the railing along the Singapore River in Singapore, May 19 2020. Picture: ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP
Migrant workers paint the railing along the Singapore River in Singapore, May 19 2020. Picture: ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP

Singapore — Singapore will allow more businesses to reopen on June 2 so that three-quarters of the economy is active again, after a nationwide lockdown cut transmission of the coronavirus among citizens and permanent residents.

Restrictions will be introduced in three phases, allowing more businesses to resume operations and schools to reopen, provided “community” infection rates remain low during the lockdown ending on June 1 and health workers are protected.

The government would give more support to businesses and their workers, with the focus on companies that remained closed on June 1, national development minister Lawrence Wong said on Tuesday.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat is expected to announce details of a fourth stimulus package next Tuesday in parliament.

“We have to do this in a very careful and calibrated manner,” Wong said. “I hope we can all maintain our discipline for a while longer.”

Key points on what will reopen on June 2:

  • Businesses in manufacturing and production such as semiconductors and engineering, and those in sectors including finance, insurance, wholesale, transportation and storage that don’t require public interaction.
  • About a third of workers will be able to resume work on-site, while others continue to work from home.
  • The measures will allow normal operations for more than three-quarters of the economy.
  • Additional consumer services such as motor vehicle servicing, all hairdressing services, school bookshops.
  • Most retail outlets will not reopen immediately, and dining at food and beverage outlets will remain disallowed for now.
  • Schools will reopen gradually.
  • Each household will be able to visit the household of parents and grandparents, subject to restrictions.

The three-phase reopening, starting on June 2, will probably take about four to six weeks, according to officials. The second period, where more businesses such as restaurants, retail outlets and gyms may reopen, could take months. The final and third phase, whereby social and business gatherings would have resumed with limited crowd sizes, may happen only when a vaccine is discovered or the disease is no longer considered a threat.

These moves to relax measures that have been in place since early April come after the city-state allowed some workplaces and services to resume operations last week. Singapore will also allow more builders to return to work from June 2 in a bid to restart an economy that has been largely shut due to the pandemic. It also plans to test 30,000 preschool staff for the virus to prepare for the reopening of the facilities.

Singapore is still racing to contain an infection outbreak among thousands of foreign workers, which has pushed its total tally to nearly 29,000 cases by Tuesday and made the small city-state one of Asia’s most infected countries. The situation in the dormitories had stabilised, and new community cases had fallen significantly, officials said on Tuesday.

The government has, however, warned that infections will rise as the country restarts activities, and relaxation move must be done in a way that averts a second wave of infections.