Even if Singapore enters Phase 3 of its progressive opening on Dec. 28, the battle with Covid-19 is far from won, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a public broadcast on Monday, Dec. 14.
Here's a summary of his address to the nation.
S'pore has to control its border reopening safely
In his speech, PM Lee stressed that the Covid-19 virus has not been eradicated, and that the pandemic is still raging around the world with second, third or even fourth waves of infection.
International borders remain largely closed as well, which does not bode well for Singapore, a country that is dependent on trade and travel.
The longer its borders stay closed to travellers, the greater the risk of Singapore "permanently losing out as an international hub", which might in turn hurt the livelihoods of Singaporeans, PM Lee said.
Therefore, Singapore can only re-open its borders in a controlled and safe way, he added.
Singapore has to accept calculated risk of imported cases spreading to community
While this decision means there will be more imported cases, and some risk of the cases spreading to the community, this is "a calculated risk" that the country has to accept, PM Lee said, assuring Singaporeans that the government will take precautions to prevent imported cases from triggering a new outbreak.
PM Lee also urged Singaporeans to keep their guard up as the virus is "most likely still circulating silently" within the community.
Groups of up to 8 people allowed to congregate during Phase 3
With the easing of capacity limits in public places like shopping malls and places of worship in Phase 3, groups of up to eight will be allowed to congregate, up from the current maximum of five.
But PM Lee cautioned everyone not to abandon their "mindset of watchfulness", but continue to comply with the rules and restrictions that will apply in Phase 3.
Singapore approves Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
The government has been working since early in the pandemic to secure access to vaccines, and has set aside more than S$1 billion to place multiple bets, sign advance purchase agreements and make down-payments for the most promising candidates, including those by Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Sinovac.
He then said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approved by the Health Sciences Authority for pandemic use, with the first shipment expected to arrive by the end of December 2020.
Should things go according to plan, there will be enough vaccine doses for everyone in Singapore by the third quarter of 2021, he added.
Vaccines to be free for all Singaporeans & long-term residents
PM Lee also announced that vaccinations will be free for all Singaporeans and long-term residents, with priority given to those who are at greatest risk, including healthcare workers, frontline personnel, the elderly and the vulnerable.
He urged everyone to get vaccinated as doing so will protect both you and your loved ones.
Vaccines will also support the nation's recovery as Singapore plays "a crucial role" transporting vaccines around the world as a global aviation hub.
He also once again stressed the importance of keeping up efforts to control the spread of Covid-19 in this "final stretch" to resuming more normality in our lives.
Top image via PM Lee's live address