77 per cent of Singaporean youths support safe distancing measures

Youths are up for the fight against COVID-19, despite a few black sheep amongst them.

Justin Hui

Published: 7 April 2020, 3:02 PM

There have been some recent media reports portraying youths as ignorant and indifferent toward social/safe distancing measures.

If this is true, it is especially concerning, given that we are now in a season of heightened measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

However, this doesn’t seem to be the attitude of most youths. According to a recent NYC-Milieu poll of 500 youths from Mar 24-25, a big majority expressed concern about the escalating COVID-19 situation. Many were also in favour of additional measures to curb its spread, even if these brought inconvenience to them.

82 per cent of the 500 youths polled were concerned about the escalating COVID-19 situation. IMAGE CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/CLARA TOH

Youth.SG spoke to seven youths to find out what how much they understood safe distancing, and what they were doing in this period to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

The tougher battle is in changing mindsets

“I dare not speak for the general youth population in Singapore, but I must say that there are definitely youths that take this seriously. I feel that the more informed youths are on the severity of COVID-19, the more socially responsible they become.

I was recently very appalled by what I felt was a great act of irresponsibility on the part of both youths and clubs targeting youths. Some of these local clubs were encouraging patronage amid increased government measures, and some youths were all geared up to go for their last few ‘clubbing sessions’ before any stricter measures were to be imposed.

To me, the tougher battle that we have to fight is changing the mindsets of people to be more socially responsible. COVID-19 does not discriminate – it crosses borders, hits all genders, races, religions, and age groups. If everyone does their part, we can help slow down and get back quicker to the norm.” – Tan Li Lyn, 26, Integrated Communications Manager.

A majority of the 500 youths polled were in favour of strong measures like suspending all public gatherings. IMAGE CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/CLARA TOH

Calling out risky behaviour  

“Friends in my social circles seem to be taking it much more seriously than before, and we’re moving online to keep in touch, conduct meetings or discuss assignments, for example.

I know others who are — frankly — less responsible and who continue to meet friends outside because they believe they do not carry the virus.

Many of us think that’s a very hazardous and risky belief to hold to, and I’ve seen some friends on social media resorting to shaming that sort of behaviour without directly calling out the person — but we can all sort of tell who it’s referring to.

I’ve been staying home and limiting going out as much as possible. I only leave to get groceries or run errands that cannot be done online. Even then I try to limit contact with the people I meet by keeping the meet-up short and quick, or tapping my friend’s shoes instead of hugging them.” – Nursarah Safari, 20, student.

Keeping a safe distance even at home 

“I hope that youths understand that those who do not show symptoms can still be undiagnosed with the virus, and that we should all do our part in keeping our community safe.

I was previously on Stay-Home Notice (SHN) for 14 days. While serving the SHN, I did not sit at the same table for meals with my family members, and used plastic cutlery. I also cleaned my room and my table regularly with disinfectant.

Now, when I go out for walks at parks, I will make sure that I am at least 1m away from people.” – Vidyashni Parimalan, 23, Student.

Being socially responsible will help slow the spread of the virus and ensure our medical frontliners can cope with patient numbers. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/ADAWIYAH ADAM

Keeping up with the news and staying engaged 

“I do think youths are taking it seriously. We may be groaning a little at not being able to hang out physically, but we are fortunate to know our way round apps and technology to still hang out virtually with each other.

We keep up with the news and are aware of fake news, which helps us stay vigilant and engaged. Some youths even voiced out concerns about the lack of social distancing at markets and crowded places, which they felt affects the effectiveness of the ‘circuit-breaker’.

I will be staying at home mostly, only going out to buy essentials and exercise at a nearby park. I will also wear a mask whenever I go out, even if it’s a short trip outdoors.” – Karel Tan, 23, Student.

Correcting misguided belief that youths are of lower risk

“Some youths don’t think safe distancing is legit because they still see the adults crowding at NTUC. I guess this is why some are not taking it seriously, because even though the government has put safe distancing measures in place, there are still many who are flouting them.

Other youths are not taking safe distancing seriously because they believe they are of lower risk. While the likelihood of them surviving the virus is higher, they don’t realise the implications of their selfish behaviour – they may potentially pass it to people who may not survive.

Also, they are too confident in our healthcare system, which unfortunately has made them complacent. Singapore’s healthcare system may be advanced and reliable, but if more people contract the virus, more will have to be tested and treated.

This means the government will have to dip into even more resources, which would not be necessary if everyone just abides by the safe distancing rules and stay at home.” – Samantha Yang, 26, Marketing Executive.

Practising safe distance is essential during this time to curb the spread of the virus. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/ADAWIYAH ADAM

Personal irresponsibility affects the whole population 

“I think most youths would abide by the social distancing measures, at least with effect from today onward. Before that, I think people still felt like they wanted to go out for ‘one last meal’ which kind of just indicates they don’t take the safe distancing measures seriously.

Most of them who think it’s okay to go out might think their decision only affects themselves, and maybe they don’t feel staying home is of much use too. But it’s really not so much about the one-on-one interaction. It is about you versus the whole population of Singapore.

At the moment, I’m not even keen on going out. Now that school is cancelled, I would probably not leave my house at all, unless I’m really dying and in need of essential supermarket products. I will most probably wear a mask out even though I hate wearing masks and have put off wearing one until now.” – Lim Hui Yi Joyce, 23, Student.

Wearing masks and regularly washing your hands of using hand sanitizer can help prevent the spread of the virus. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/ADAWIYAH ADAM

Medical resources are not infinite 

“In other countries, doctors have to send sick people home as their healthcare system does not have the resources to treat every sick patient. Across the globe, there has been a shortage of COVID-19 tests, Personal Protective Equipment, hospital beds, ventilators, etc.

Medical practitioners are urging people to stay home to flatten the curve – they should be the “last defense line” and not on the “frontlines” as it up to each individual to be socially responsible and stay home unless they must go out for an essential reason.

Social distancing should be implemented if one MUST go out, rather than if one is going out anyway.” – Isabelle Young, 23, Student.

As an encouragement to youths, the National Youth Council chief David Chua said: “Prove to the others out there that Youth can do this, and do it well too. Show them that despite your years, you are tenacious and determined. There will be a few bad hats here and there, but we know from our polls that the majority of youth want to do the right thing and be counted in a time of crisis like we have never faced before. So stay home, stay safe and make us proud!”

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