From pandemic to endemic: Adapting to a new normal in Singapore
By Eunice Lim, SEC Newgate Singapore
For many of us, life before the pandemic seems like a distant memory. When Singapore announced its first wave of Covid-19 infections last year, I recalled our country being sent into a frenzy. Thankfully, our government was quick to enforce stringent measures, carrying out aggressive contact tracing to curb the rising infections and keep numbers at bay.
Back then, the abrupt change in lifestyle was indeed a hard pill for many to swallow.
Fast forward to over a year later, we have learnt how to better cope with the pandemic on various fronts. While many of us have accepted that Covid-19 is here to stay, the good news is that it is possible to live normally with it. This has been the guiding principle that has shaped our transition towards treating the pandemic as endemic. What this means is that here in Singapore, the focus will now be on tracing and treating outbreak clusters – rather than strict lockdowns, border closures, and work-from-home orders, which have been the defining feature of much of the pandemic across the world. In other words, Singapore will no longer try to track every case; but rather treat the Covid-19 like a flu. Some will still fall ill, but most will recover at home.
To date, over 80% of the population has been fully vaccinated. This has paved the way for us to forge ahead with our reopening plans, albeit at a cautious pace. Restaurants have reopened, and malls are beginning to buzz with large numbers of patrons. While work-from-home remains encouraged, up to 50% of employees are now allowed to return to their workplaces. In what represents one of our biggest leaps of faith yet toward reopening, Singapore is also taking steps to welcome vaccinated travellers from some countries with an intention of expanding travel lanes. The recently introduced Vaccinated Travel Lane for example, now allows visitors from Germany and Brunei to enter without quarantine.
Post-pandemic Singapore will certainly not feel like an exact throwback to 2019. Nonetheless, we can remain hopeful (while keeping vigilant of course!) that, slowly but surely, life will return to some form of normalcy.