2020 has been a wild ride.
In February, DORSCON Orange happened. From April through May, we survived two months of Circuit Breaker at home.
After Phase 1, we are now well into Phase 2.
Living in the midst of a global pandemic has taken some time to adapt to, and perhaps we’ll never fully get used to this, but, *sigh* this is after all, the “new normal”.
The “new normal”
The phrase “new normal” has been tossed around a lot lately, basically referring to life as we now know it.
We no longer leave our home without a mask (and an extra one, just in case) and a small bottle of hand sanitiser constantly sits in our bags.
Upon reaching the mall, we whip out our phones instinctively to scan the SafeEntry QR code before joining the queue to get in. We barely think twice about getting our temperature checked before entering a restaurant.
Of course, a big part of this “new normal” also involves looking out for daily updates on the new infections.
And have these adjustments made to our lives been worth it, you ask? Well, it sure seems like it.
Things have stabilised
Those following the news would know that the number of new Covid-19 infections have decreased in Singapore overall across the months.
Due to epidemiological investigations, proactive testing of at-risk groups and contact tracing efforts, potential infections have also been isolated and contained.
Things largely appear to be under control. At least for now.
As people gradually build up the confidence to venture out more, we notice crowds have returned. Which is fine as long as people adhere to the safe management measures.
Abiding by the letter and not the spirit of the law
However, there will always be some who try to bend the rules.
Earlier in April, Multi-Ministry Taskforce co-chair Lawrence Wong advised Singaporeans to stay at home during the Circuit Breaker period, citing his observations that some people will always try to push the rules to their limits.
More recently, in October, Wong also also warned against complacency and stressed the need to “stay very disciplined in complying with the necessary safeguards”.
Over the past few months, F&B outlets in Singapore have been fined for accepting reservations for more than five persons, failing to observe a 1m distance between tables, and even alcohol consumption at the premises after 10:30pm.
To circumvent the five-person dining rule, some people may still try to go out in large groups by booking multiple tables and then mingling across the tables.
While there have been cases where the rules were clearly flouted, many of us may have noticed other less-straightforward cases.
These cases involve people who appear to be abiding by the letter, and not the spirit of the law.
80 per cent of people surveyed by The Straits Times said that it should be acceptable to remove masks only after food and drinks have arrived.
But when should one put their mask back on? ST has suggested that for many Singaporeans, the answer varies.
Perhaps one might sit in a restaurant chatting with a friend for hours, with a bit of drink left in their cups to justify not wearing a mask.
In less crowded parks, one might pull down his or her mask when talking to others, or worse, choose not to wear a mask at all while taking a leisurely stroll, only to start jogging when they notice enforcement officers in the vicinity.
Noticing behaviour like these may prompt a “tsk” from civic-minded, law-abiding citizens, but let’s be real here: Haven’t we all been tempted to do the same (...or done the same...) at some point?
But honestly, not bending the rules has never been about avoiding a fine, but rather, appreciating that everything we do has potential consequences for ourselves and others.
The fight is not over
Even if the number of locally transmitted infections is low, the truth is that Covid-19 is likely to haunt us for the foreseeable future as the global situation remains deeply uncertain.
Until a vaccine is found and distributed, everyone will have to do their part in managing the spread of the virus.
Remembering simple things all go a long way in the fight against the virus, like:
- Making sure you don’t pull down your mask to talk to a friend (said friend may no longer be your friend after that),
- Always keeping a safe distance from other people (Covid-19 or not, this is arguably a good practice)
- Adhering to gathering limits (even if you’re a social butterfly, you don’t need to show off that you have more than four friends),
- Seeing a doctor if you’re unwell (obviously) and getting swabbed, if required, and
- Using the TraceTogether App and/or Token (it’s free anyway)
Oh, and remember to use SafeEntry to check in. And check out.
Top photo credit: Joshua Lee, Tanya Ong.
This sponsored article by the Ministry of Health is a friendly reminder to do your part in the fight against Covid-19. Follow MOH’s Instagram here.