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One year since circuit breaker, youth reflect on the impact it had

The youth emphasised that we must continue to remain vigilant as the COVID-19 pandemic is still not over.

Celeste Lim
Celeste Lim

Yogurt lover with a Spotify playlist for every mood.


Published: 7 April 2021, 1:37 PM

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the start of the circuit breaker. 

On Apr 7, 2020, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that Singaporeans were to stay home to prevent COVID-19 from spreading further, only leaving the house to get essential goods or services like food and medical treatment.

The circuit breaker period lasted a total of one month, three weeks and four days – from Apr 7 to Jun 1.

We spoke to some youths to reminisce about the memories they had from the circuit breaker, and how the period affected them.

Making the best of the circuit breaker

“When the circuit breaker first started, I made some handmade cards to brighten my friends’ days. It was nice imagining how someone else’s day could be brightened by my cards.

 

Shannen found that writing letters for her friends was therapeutic, as it helped her take her mind off things. PHOTO CREDIT: ÁLVARO SERRANO VIA UNSPLASH

 

“Since my friends and I couldn’t meet face to face, we resorted to Zoom calls that would take place for several hours and last up to the next day.

“This wasn’t normal before the circuit breaker as it would be too dangerous to go home so late at night, but on Zoom my friends and I were able to have heart to heart talks while watching the sun rise. It was a really interesting experience.

“Though certain days were tough, I learned to make the best out of the bad days and find joy in every little thing.” – Shannen Leong, 19, Student

Meaningful experience of swabbing migrant workers

“Starting my first serious job during the circuit breaker was definitely unforgettable. I’m not going to lie, I couldn’t help but shed tears upon hearing some of the migrant workers’ stories. If I could help in any way possible, I knew that would be what I wanted to do. 

“I worked in a place and environment that no one dared to come into at first. Everyone was scared about the risks that come with being a frontline healthcare worker. My team and I worked tirelessly to ensure the migrant workers were given and provided with the best care. 

 

Sharifah felt burnt out as she was working six days a week, so she learnt to find a work-life balance. PHOTO CREDIT: MAT NAPO VIA UNSPLASH

 

“I personally think that the circuit breaker was necessary. It was put in place to safeguard the community and country, because if things went as per normal, the number of community cases and deaths would definitely be on the rise now. 

“I think people can put more emphasis on their hygiene. I don’t think they realise how much of a difference it makes if they really just sanitise their hands regularly, practise social distancing and report to the clinic if unwell.” Sharifah Qaisara, 20, Frontline healthcare worker 

Working and looking after her child at the same time

“I was working from home while taking care of my son, and pregnant with my second child. As my son was less than 18 months old, he hadn’t started school yet.

“I had to wake up early in the morning to prepare his breakfast. I also prepared activities to keep him engaged during the day, like arts and crafts. When he was engaged with other activities or napping, I would rush my work. There are days I worked till midnight to catch up on what I missed out on during the day. It was stressful as we also did not want my son to feel neglected, but we had to handle both work and kids properly.

“24 hours in a day was never enough. One of my most memorable experiences was preparing dinner together after work almost every day. It was madly crazy and busy, but every day was so fulfilling when we got to spend time with the little ones, especially because my little boy used to stay with his grandparents in Malaysia.” – Yen Ching, 33, Bank executive

Household tension when stuck at home

“The circuit breaker was a depressing time and there was not much motivation to push myself to learn something new. It was mostly about trying to save existing projects and find ways to survive through the pandemic, mentally and emotionally. 

“I could not stand being cooped up in my room most of the time and had to find ways to escape the monotony of home life. I would go for grocery runs and pick up letters from the letter box just to catch a breath of fresh air.

“Being stuck in the same household as my family for a few months did cause some rifts. As a student who was struggling to grasp home-based learning, the tension in the household exacerbated my mental health. I had to carve out my own territory – my room – and take a break from family interactions at times. 

 

Barani had to find ways to take extra care of his mental health as his family faced some tension at home during the circuit breaker. PHOTO CREDIT: IZ ZY VIA UNSPLASH

 

“We still need to follow the regulations that have been set in place, and ensure we always wear our masks and take care of our health. Many of us, including myself are getting worn out by this ‘new normal’ and can’t seem to find the strength and motivation to keep following the rules. However, we just have to keep the bigger picture in mind.” – Barani Vicnan, 18, Intern

Celebrating Hari Raya over Zoom

“The circuit breaker affected me in both a negative and positive way. On one hand, I used it as an opportunity to spend more time with my family, since they were all working or studying from home. On the other hand, it was also quite lonely and suffocating for me to be at home. 

“My most memorable experience from the circuit breaker would definitely be celebrating Hari Raya from home! As compared to previous years when we could do physical visits, we had to do all our celebrations online.

“Although the festive atmosphere wasn’t as vibrant as previous years, I still got to dress up, spend some time with my family and eat good food. It wasn’t the bustling Hari Raya that I’m used to, but I think we made the most out of it.

 

As the celebrations were all online, Qaisara had to teach her technologically inept relatives how to use Zoom. PHOTO CREDIT: CHRIS MONTGOMERY VIA UNSPLASH

 

“To avoid another circuit breaker, we should practise social responsibility and follow the safe measurement measures that have been put in place. I know that sometimes the restrictions can be annoying to follow, but it’s a community effort and we all need to do our part.” – Qaisara Farzana, 19, Student

Loving to love himself first

“The circuit breaker affected me in a negative manner as my mental health deteriorated. I was feeling really depressed and pressured. 

“I started to cry every day as I was unable to take the mental pressure that I was getting from those around me. I felt like the world was really demanding, and I started to hate myself.

“However, one of the things I learned was that I need to work on myself and also love myself more than anything. I believe in this quote: ‘Love yourself first because that is who you will spend the rest of your life with’. 

“This helped me realise that I need to start appreciating who I am as a person, and spend time on building myself.” – Joshua Calvin Paul, 18, Student

Written by Celeste Lim, Jeevana Kalaithasan, Stacey Tay


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