No changes to current Covid-19 rules through Chinese New Year period, says Lawrence Wong

Minister Lawrence Wong said he could not imagine the Omicron wave passing before Chinese New Year.
The Straits Times file

SINGAPORE - Singapore's current set of Covid-19 safe management rules will stay in place during the upcoming Chinese New Year period from Feb 1, in view of a likely surge of infections brought about by the new Omicron variant, said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong on Wednesday (Jan 5).

Group sizes for gathering and dining at restaurants have been capped at five since November, when Singapore emerged from an outbreak caused by the earlier Delta variant.

Mr Wong, who sits on the multi-ministry task force handling Covid-19, said during a press conference that the present posture would be maintained as he could not imagine the Omicron wave passing before Chinese New Year.

"Chinese New Year may be a time when Omicron cases are rising," he said. "So we cannot afford to have more superspreader events taking place during that time. And therefore we would like to encourage and urge everyone to continue exercising personal and social responsibility and to comply and co-operate with all the safe management measures.

"Let's all do our part to keep our family members, our friends and our loved ones safe even as we usher in the new year."

Mr Wong pointed to the New Year's Eve celebration at Clarke Quay, which enforcement agencies are investigating, as an example of a potential superspreading event, with blatant, unacceptable breaches of safe management measures (SMMs).

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The gathering was caught on video and is believed to have involved hundreds in a spontaneous countdown party.

"Our investigations showed that this was not an organised event," said Mr Wong. "What happened was that people started gathering together, they got caught up in the moment and soon we had a crowd of more than 100 people at that location, with many flouting the rules - no SMMs, no safe distancing - and clearly it was a potential superspreader event."

He added: "Such actions are not acceptable, especially when we are still in the midst of a pandemic... We are reviewing CCTV footage to identify the culprits. These people will be called in for interviews, and enforcement action will be taken against those who have breached the rules."

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This article was first published in The Straits TimesPermission required for reproduction.