Singapore will allow some businesses to reopen from May 12 as part of a gradual resumption of selected activities and services amidst a decline in the coronavirus cases at the community level, the health ministry said on Saturday.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said that Singapore is in a position to start the gradual easing of the strict "circuit breaker" measures, reported Channel News Asia.
With the circuit breaker measures to check the spread of COVID-19 in place for about two weeks, the number of new cases in the community has been on a decline, Gan said during a virtual press conference.
He said that some businesses will resume operations from May 12, with a gradual resumption of selected activities and services over a few weeks. The circuit breaker has been extended to June 1.
Home-based food businesses, selected food retail outlets and food manufacturing firms will be among those to resume operations from May 12, co-chair of the task force Minister Lawrence Wong said.
Wong said that the authorities will start to bring back students in small groups or face to face lessons in May, focusing on cohorts who are taking national exams and are graduating.
"It's a small group, and we will do it with safe-distancing measures," he said.
Meanwhile, as many as 447 new coronavirus cases reported on Saturday afternoon, taking the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 17,548, the Ministry of Health said.
The vast majority of the new cases are work permit holders in foreign worker dormitories.
There were four Singapore citizens and permanent residents (foreigners) among the fresh cases.
In the meantime, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) needle acupuncture will be allowed from May 5, for pain management only if assessed by the TCM practitioner to be essential, the authorities said.
This excludes cupping, moxibustion, guasha and tuina manipulative therapies, according to the Channel report.
TCM halls with registered TCM practitioners will also be allowed to sell retail products. This is on top of the consultation and herbal dispensary services which they are already allowed to provide.
Also, residents living in strata-titled residential buildings such as condominiums may exercise within the common areas of these private residential developments, such as footpaths from May 5.
However, they must continue to follow safe distancing measures, as the same rules that apply in public areas will also apply within the common areas of these developments, the task force said.
"Our enforcement officers will go in, realistically, to inspect and check and enforce the rules, but importantly we also call on all the Management Corporations and managing agents within these developments to do their part, and also help with the enforcement," Wong said.
Nevertheless, all sports and recreational facilities within these private residential developments such as playgrounds, pools, gyms, barbecue pits and club houses will remain closed.