Today marks another step in Singapore’s cautious reopening after the recent imposition of restrictions to fight a worrying surge in Covid-19 cases. Dining in, for example, can resume but with group sizes limited to two people – not five as many hoped for. The next marker that patrons and establishments will no doubt look forward to will be around mid-July. By then, the authorities expect a system of regular testing to be in place in higher-risk settings, along with higher vaccination rates. And barring a surge in cases and significantly large clusters, Singaporeans should be able to welcome a further relaxation of measures.
This two-stage, recalibrated opening up represents a viable middle way between contrasting views on how countries should manage social and economic activities to deal with a stubborn coronavirus pandemic, with powerful new variants emerging to complicate matters. At one end of the spectrum are those who argue that it is best to proceed with caution, and push back the reopening till such time when Singapore has near-zero cases consistently for many days. The problem with that is it is difficult to achieve this degree of certainty given how transmissible the Delta variant of the virus is – and postponing a reopening for many months could cause many businesses to fold and jobs to be lost.