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Mar 25, 2020 04:29 PM

Singapore to Close All Entertainment Venues as Outbreak Enters Second Phase

After Thrusday, bars, cinemas and all other entertainment venues in Singapore will be closed until April 30. Photo: The Straits Times
After Thrusday, bars, cinemas and all other entertainment venues in Singapore will be closed until April 30. Photo: The Straits Times
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(The Straits Times) — Bars, cinemas and all other entertainment outlets will be closed from the end of Thursday to April 30 as Singapore’s fight against Covid-19 enters a new phase amid a wave of imported cases to the country.

In announcing its strictest measures yet, Singapore’s multi-ministry task force also said Tuesday that:

* All center-based tuition and enrichment classes will be suspended to reduce the intermingling of students from different schools and enhance the safety of students.

* All religious services will be suspended.

* Malls, museums and restaurants must reduce crowd density to stay open.

* All Singapore residents returning from Britain and the United States from the end of Wednesday will have to stay in hotels to serve their 14-day stay-home notice (SHN).

* Those who breach the SHN will face fines of up to $10,000 or jail of up to six months or both.

* Any Singapore resident or long-term pass holder who leaves Singapore after Friday will be charged unsubsidized rates should they be hospitalized in public hospitals for Covid-19 treatment.

They also won't be able to claim from MediShield Life or Integrated Shield Plans for these treatments at public and private hospitals.

The measures come as 49 new Covid-19 cases were reported on Tuesday, including 32 imported cases. This brings the total of patients to 558.

The measures are pre-emptive but come at a time of real risk, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong at a press conference.

“All over the world, millions of people are living in a different reality. Workplaces are closed, shops are empty, roads are empty, everyone is asked to stay home,” he said. “We are not experiencing this in Singapore — not yet, but we cannot be complacent.”

Despite efforts to isolate imported cases, the risk of local transmission will rise as Singapore sees more imported cases, he said.

“So we have to take seriously the measures to protect our family members and the people around us,” he said.

The measures on entertainment venues cover bars and entertainment venues like night clubs, discos, cinemas, theaters and karaoke outlets.

Other public venues such as malls, museums and attractions, where contact is more transient, may remain open. But operators must make sure the venue does not have more than one person per 16 square meters of usable space.

This is to significantly reduce the density of crowds in these venues, especially during peak periods, said the Ministry of Health.

Groups must not exceed 10 persons. Indoor and outdoor shows within attractions and open atrium sales events are suspended.

Retail malls and attractions that are unable to adhere to these requirements must be closed and additional penalties may be imposed on those found to have been a place of transmission if they had not adhered to requirements.

The ministry said existing measures for food and beverage venues continue to apply. While related diners can be seated together at one table, tables must be spaced out.

Groups of diners should also be limited to 10 persons or fewer.

Patrons of places with fixed seating — for example, hawker centers — must use alternate seats.

On religious gatherings, the ministry said that while services will be suspended, places of worship may remain open for private worship and essential rites, subject to group sizes of 10 persons or fewer at any one time.

This story has been corrected to say that who breach the SHN will face fines of up to $10,000 or jail of up to six months or both.

This story was first published in The Straits Times.

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