Singaporean youth react to PM Lee’s speech on the path to a new normal
More restrictions will be implemented for unvaccinated citizens and VTLs are expected to expand.
On Saturday (Oct 9), PM Lee addressed the nation to announce how the government plans on moving forward to help Singapore transition to the “new normal”.
He introduced the strategy of treating the COVID-19 virus like the common flu and urged Singaporeans to participate in the Home Recovery scheme to ease the burden on our healthcare sector.
In addition, PM Lee mentioned that restrictions will begin to ease up so as to help citizens resume life as per pre-COVID-19. As a countermeasure, the Government will adjust safe management measures, allowing only fully vaccinated individuals to dine-in at hawker centres and coffee shops, and enter shopping malls and attractions from Oct 13.
Another notable point was the expansion of the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme. Singapore intends to open up more VTLs to countries such as the US, UK and Spain.
We spoke to some youths to find out what they think of the proposed changes as we gradually move towards an endemic COVID-19.
Excited to travel again
“I’m glad that the Government is taking immediate action to address the issues surrounding COVID-19 and that regular talks are being held with professionals to consult them on the next best step to take to lessen the blows from the pandemic.
“With herd immunity being a common topic, I think life can return to normal with COVID-19 just as a common illness and people will eventually get used to it.
“I’ll most likely be travelling at the end of this year or the next. It will be nice to take a break after being trapped in Singapore for so many years and purely concentrating on my studies. There will still be a worry of me contracting COVID-19 overseas, so I’ll make sure to be more careful and mindful when overseas.” – Clara Thai, 20, Undergraduate
Cautious to live with the virus
“Living and taking it as a normal disease such as flu is quite dangerous. By letting citizens live freely with the new implementations, it allows them to not take it seriously.
“I wouldn’t travel so soon as even when the borders were open for certain companies to travel for work, there is still an increase of cases coming in. Even though I’m fully vaccinated, it does not guarantee that I will not get infected.” – Firza Fitrahyanti, 20, Property Officer
Having faith in the future
“I’ve gotten used to the rising numbers. But as a student nurse who had to go for a work attachment last semester, I have to admit that I was quite worried that I might contract the virus and pass it to my family members. However, they really put in place a lot of measures and are very strict with infection control and Personal Protective Equipment. My biggest worry would be just passing the virus on to my family members.
“I think the tightened restrictions on unvaccinated citizens are valid. The Government has been encouraging us to get vaccinated and although it may not be foolproof, I believe that it reduces the severity of one’s condition if they were to contract COVID-19. In a way, I guess it’s also to protect the unvaccinated and also the people around them.” – Sammi Then, 20, Nurse
The need for life to resume
“Changing strategies regularly in order to battle COVID-19 is a good way as we don’t remain stagnant but keep up the trial and error to see the best strategy that suits us. I agree that a lockdown is unnecessary as Singaporeans are becoming more responsible in our actions to battle COVID-19.
“There is nothing much we can do but to adjust and adapt to a new normal. If we are to go to another circuit breaker or heightened alert, it will take a longer time for economic recovery and increase in unemployment rates.
“Majority of the countries have already adapted to COVID-19. I believe the VTLs are also acknowledged upon knowing and confirming that certain countries are safe. No government will risk their citizens by allowing them to go to unsafe places.” – Aliff Haidar, 28, F&B Manager
Worried for family members
“I mean life has to go on, everyone has to go and work. But I do worry about testing positive for COVID-19 because it will mean that my parents and I have to stay at home for three days.
“That’s quite a big burden especially because my parents are hawkers and working from home isn’t an option for them. So closing the shop for three days will cost us a lot.
“I pity some of (the unvaccinated people) though, because I know a few people who can’t get vaccinated because of existing medical conditions. So it’s really unfair for them.
“But if you think of it from another perspective, it’s also protecting them because as what the Multi-Ministry Taskforce said, the risk of spreading the virus is higher at hawker centres and shopping malls.” – Colin Low, 19, Student
Looking out for the elderly
“At this point, I’m numb to whatever changes COVID-19 brings. It’s been two years. I think as individuals we just need to play our part by maintaining social distancing and cutting down on social interactions.
“Regarding unvaccinated citizens, on one hand, my sympathy for them is limited, considering how much time they had to get fully vaccinated. On the other hand, my heart does go out to people like the elderly. I do think they are valid for being wary of something they don’t fully understand, especially if all they know is that the vaccine is painful and that it hasn’t been proven to provide immunity against COVID-19. It’s understandable that they don’t want to go through with it.
“I do see that the Government is implementing this measure as a way to protect the citizens but it feels very unfair to the elderly. I do think that more can be done to convince them to take the vaccine before cutting them off from everything.” – Katrina Lumalu, 19, Student
Thankful for the opening of VTLs
“I think the definition of the “new normal” feels very unclear. This term has been thrown around so often and so casually that I no longer know what it is supposed to look like. The changes in dining out group sizes whenever community cases start to rise also contradicts this idea of a new normal since we keep going back and forth with little to no progress.
“My extended family is overseas (in Hong Kong) and I haven’t visited them in almost two years, so it would be nice to go back and reconnect with them.
“I think this VTL does save a lot of time since there’s no need for a quarantine order in Singapore nor the country we’re travelling to. It’s definitely great for people like me and my brother as we’re both still schooling and have a limited amount of time to spend travelling.” – Fong Wai Kei, 19, Student
Written by Amanda Tan, Charlotte Chang and Nur Sabrina