Work-from-home to continue post-circuit breaker: Chan Chun Sing

Only about 17 per cent of Singapore's workforce leave their houses for work right now.

Andrew Koay | May 03, 2020, 04:40 PM

The end of the circuit breaker will not be the end of working from home, said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing.

The Straits Times (ST) reported that Chan expects work-from-home arrangements to continue for the "foreseeable future", even after the circuit breaker ends on June 1.

He was speaking to reporters at a virtual interview on May 3.

In a Facebook post that followed the interview, Chan reiterated that prior to the circuit breaker, the government had already been encouraging companies to implement work from home arrangements.

According to ST, this saw on-site work activities reduced by 70 per cent before further reductions since the circuit breaker was implemented on Apr. 7.

Currently, about 17 per cent of the Singapore's workforce continues to leave their house as part of their work in the essential services sector.

Measures progressively lifted

This means that not all businesses will be able to reopen immediately after the circuit breaker ends, with Chan indicating on Facebook that measures would be "progressively" lifted.

"When deciding which firms and sectors should resume operations first, we will consider factors such as their importance to the economy, contribution to local employment and ability to minimise risks of transmission at their worksites."

Sectors involved in international trade and access to critical supplies will resume operations first, he added.

ST quoted Chan as saying that "some of the social entertainment outlets" will not be opened immediately.

Instead, the focus is on manufacturing capacities and production capabilities.

While he did not give a timeline for when Singapore's economy would return to its full capacity, Chan pointed to the trend in community spread of the virus as an indicator.

He said that if Singapore continued to see "very low numbers in the community spread", it would give the government "greater confidence" in opening up more sectors.

Businesses to implement safe distancing

In the meantime, Chan said on Facebook that the government was reaching out to all companies on how to put in place the safe distancing measures required to resume operations.

"These measures include providing a safe working environment with safe distancing measures in place and technological solutions to track and trace quickly," he wrote.

Companies will also be required to to ensure employees' discipline with safe distancing compliance.

The minister encouraged all businesses to use this time to prepare and implement stronger measures for "the good of everyone".

Chan's interview comes one day after the government announced that selected activities will be allowed to resume from May 12.

These activities include home-based food businesses, food manufacturers and selected food retail outlets, laundry services, barbers, and pet supplies stores.

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Top image via Chan Chun Sing's Facebook page and Mimi Thian via Unsplash