Photo credit: Chin

Singaporeans must be our own safe distancing ambassadors to avoid a second wave

It’s been tiring and we all want to have our fun again, but doing so ahead of time might do more harm than good.

Nigel Chin

Published: 25 May 2020, 3:17 PM

What was life like prior to circuit breaker?

For me, I had a routine. Monday evenings were reserved for the weekly futsal sessions to chase away the blues, while on Thursdays I will usually get together with my closest friends from Secondary School for dinner and drinks. Wednesdays and the weekends were typically meant for my fiancée unless work called.

But circuit breaker has changed life as it is and I’m sure everyone feels the same. So I’m sure that everyone was delighted when the announcement that we have been eagerly anticipating came on the night of May 19, when the Multi-Ministry task force confirmed the end of circuit breaker on Jun 1.

And I’m sure plenty fervently read articles or watched the news for more details, particularly about the three phases and what we can or cannot do in each phase.

However, judging from the comments I’ve read online – from social media platforms such as Facebook or discussion platforms or forums such as Reddit, many have felt disappointed. They also expressed their view that Phase 1 is essentially an extended circuit breaker with more relaxed measures.

Those arguments may have their merits, since we still can’t meet with others who do not live in the same household, apart from either parents or grandparents, or sit comfortably in a restaurant to indulge in a good meal.

But the way I see it, Phase 1 is something that is needed at this stage.

As students head back to school and some adults return to their offices, there will be an increase of crowds in the streets of Singapore, especially public transport. And crowd is an important factor here, especially since not all Singaporeans have the luxury of owning their own vehicles or commuting via hired transports, which means there will be a huge reliance on trains and buses to get around.

No, I’m not worried about trains or buses breaking down because of their inability to deal with the increased crowd size (although we can never truly discount that, huh?).

Be prepared for an increased crowd on public transports when Phase 1 comes around.


But with an increased crowd in an enclosed space, it’s going to be hard to practice safe distancing. Sure, the government has mandated that anyone who steps out of their homes will have to wear a mask. At the same time, commuters taking public transport must refrain from talking on the phone or to other passengers to further reduce the spread of respiratory droplets.

And that is where we must all do our part. We cannot expect the bus driver to constantly look out for passengers to observe these measures, which means we must all take on the safe distancing ambassador role to regulate it ourselves.

Every Singaporean must be their own safe distancing ambassador in order for it to work. That is important, if we want to avoid a potential second wave hitting Singapore. Already, countries such as South Korea, Germany and China have witnessed the second wave after lifting their restrictions in recent weeks.

If we want as much of our daily routines pre-circuit breaker to return as soon as possible, then it’s crucial that we cannot take it easy when Jun 2 comes, because the end of circuit breaker does not mean that COVID-19 is gone.

The way I see it, the fight against the virus is a test of willpower.

Not being able to meet my friends or my fiancée has been tough. And if I’m being honest, no amount of Zoom chats will make it any easier. I’ll admit that the desire to meet my fiancée and friends for a ‘cheat day’ of 15 minutes is very tempting one but I rather wait it out a couple of weeks than to run the risk of another few months being kept away from them.

Because between a quick return to the daily lives pre-circuit breaker and a prolonged period of Phase 1 or even a return to the circuit breaker, I think the choice is an obvious one.

With the majority of shops in shopping malls still not reopening for business, there isn’t really any reason to head out still.


I, for one, will continue staying home. Yes, it’s getting boring and the list of activities that I can do is drying up. At the very least in Phase 1, I can still make a quick trip to visit the grandparents bi-weekly – to limit the risks of them getting the virus.

Of course, a bottle of hand sanitiser and an extra mask will be the first things in my bag when I head out. Sanitising my hands hourly has become somewhat of a norm now.

In any case, if we were to ignore the rules in Phase 1 and do what we like, I’m pretty sure authorities will clamp down hard and tighten the measures again. We’ve seen that for the bars and pubs in Robertson Quay – all it needed was a few errant and irresponsible persons for the restaurants to be ordered to stop selling takeaway alcohol.

And if Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong appears on our screen in the coming weeks or months and mentions the dreaded abbreviation of ‘CB’, then we only have ourselves to blame. So let’s not allow the situation to turn into that.

We want to move forward, not backwards.

So visualise your own plan of social responsibility come Jun 1 and together, we can kiss the CB goodbye once and for all.

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