No masks, open borders, ability to travel again: PM Lee on what eventual new normal might look like


Nyi Nyi Thet | May 31, 2021, 04:24 PM

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Aside from Covid-19 updates and short term measures, Prime Minister Lee touched on in his speech, he also gave a brief idea of what he imagines will be the new normal.

That phrase has of course been bandied around quite a bit, but PM Lee's reference to it tackled a hypothetical scenario, provided that Singapore meets some of the criteria he laid out.

He said he did not expect Covid-19 to disappear, but to become endemic, and "remain with humankind".

This means that the virus will continue to circulate in pockets of the global population for years to come.

Singapore, too, might see small Covid-19 outbreaks from time to time.

PM Lee said that this the new normal will involve learning to carry on with life even with the virus "in our midst".

He brought up the common flu and dengue, which he said is now managed through public health measures and personal precautions, as well as regular vaccinations for the flu.

He emphasised that while the vaccine might not entirely prevent infections, it makes becoming very ill less likely.


Another part of the new normal that PM Lee touched on was the issue of borders.

He pointed out that living with an endemic Covid-19 means Singapore cannot completely close borders.

Instead, Singapore must stay connected to the world, with "effective safeguards and border restrictions" to ensure safety.

PM Lee also said that Singapore will be not able to prevent some infected persons from slipping through from time to time.

However, he explained, if the population is mostly vaccinated, Singapore should be able to trace, isolate and treat cases before it becomes a severe outbreak.

Singapore’s priority, according to PM Lee, is to get through this pandemic and position itself strongly for the future.

He also spoke about how the countries which are disciplined and put in place sensible safeguards, will be able to re-open their economies, re-connect to the rest of the world, grow and prosper.

New normal

Rounding up his speech, Lee gave an idea as to what the new normal might be.

"In the new normal, Covid-19 will not dominate our lives.

Our people will be mostly vaccinated, and possibly taking booster shots every year

We will get tested often, but it will be fast and easy. We will go to work or school, meet friends and family, participate in religious services, and enjoy entertainment and sports events

We will re-open our borders safely, visitors will again come to Singapore. Singaporeans will travel again to countries where the disease is well under control, especially if we have been vaccinated

And eventually we will even go about without masks again, at least outdoors.

Right now, we are some ways off from this happy state, but we are heading in the right direction."

Some ways off.

Image from Getty