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No changes to Covid-19 local measures for now, too early to tell if tightening needed: Lawrence Wong

SINGAPORE – There will not be any changes to Covid-19 community restrictions for now, even as Singapore steps up its border measures amid reports of the new Omicron variant, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said on Tuesday (Nov 30).

It is still too early to tell at this stage whether local measures will need to be tightened, given that not enough is known about the new virus variant, he said.

Mr Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 here, was addressing a question from The Straits Times on the possibility of tightened community measures due to the Omicron variant during a press conference.

For now, Singapore is taking additional steps to strengthen its border measures, he said.

Among these measures are on-arrival polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for all travellers and PCR rostered routine testing for airport and other border front-line workers.

But Mr Wong stressed that Singapore needs to have the mindset of being adaptable and nimble to changes. 

“In this rapidly changing environment, we will have to constantly review and update our measures accordingly, based on new information,” the minister said. 

Pointing out that the Omicron variant will not be the last variant of Covid-19 of concern, he said: “There will be new mutations and we just have to be prepared.”

Mr Wong added that there could be a possible mutation down the road that is more threatening and far more resistant to the current batch of vaccines.

This is part of the broader uncertainty that has been the case throughout the pandemic which Singapore has to deal with, he said.

It comes back to the point that there is no single silver bullet to address all these issues, Mr Wong said, stressing the importance of staying nimble and adjusting to the data available. 

“At the end of the day, it goes back to what we’ve always emphasised: Individual social responsibility in all of us doing our part, cooperating with the measures and staying united in fighting this pandemic together.” 

Singapore relaxed some restrictions on dining out, household visits and social activities from Nov 22 after nearly two months of stabilisation measures, as the local Covid-19 situation remained stable and with the weekly infection growth rate staying at one or lower.

Under current measures, fully vaccinated people from different households are allowed to dine at food and beverage outlets in groups of up to five.

Households are also permitted to receive a maximum of five visitors a day, an increase from the previous limit of two visitors a day.

From Wednesday (Dec 1), vaccination-differentiated measures will be expanded further to include all libraries under the National Library Board and selected activities in community clubs or centres under the People’s Association.

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