S'pore can't keep relying on lockdowns to curb Covid-19 infection: Ong Ye Kung

A vaccinated population will allow the country to reopen.

Belmont Lay | June 19, 2021, 06:13 PM

Singapore's reopening of its economy will depend on its vaccination rate, health minister Ong Ye Kung said on June 18 during a virtual media briefing by the multi-ministry taskforce.

During the briefing, he said food and beverage outlets and gyms cannot be "opening and closing in tandem" with infection clusters, but instead depend on attaining a higher vaccination rate.

The reliance on snap lockdowns as and when they are needed to curb the spread of Covid-19 also cannot "go on forever", or else the country's competitiveness and viability are at stake.

Ong said: "At some point, with our higher capabilities, high vaccination, we must be able to reconnect with the world. Travel must start again."

He was responding to a question on whether snap lockdowns are sustainable as residents in Singapore grow anxious and many businesses are suffering.

Things have improved since one year ago

But things might be better now than just a year ago.

The health minister noted that even though there is little difference for F&B outlets now, many other businesses are still allowed to operate.

These include manufacturing plants and construction firms.

Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong, a MTF co-chair, also weighed in and said many might have forgotten that the circuit breaker more than a year ago was "quite a severe restriction on many activities in the community".

Gan said: "I think we have to look at all the measures taken together, that will allow us to restore economic activities as quickly as possible."

F&B outlets are not allowed to have dine-in customers until June 21.

Vaccination drive going strong

The health minister revealed that vaccination rates have gone up from 40,000 doses a day in May, to 47,000 doses a day over the past two weeks.

He pledged that "it will go higher in the coming weeks".

The goal with mass vaccination is to avoid high infection rates.

Ong said: "Without higher vaccination rates, infection numbers will still matter because high infections can lead to more severe illnesses, especially amongst those those who are more vulnerable."

Top photo via MCI