Do it right! Phase 3 by end of year if ‘all the stars are aligned’: Lawrence Wong

Phase 3 re-opening

It is better to do it right than to rush into Phase 3 with bad consequences. That’s Education Minister Lawrence Wong’s message on Tuesday 10 November.

Singapore could transit to Phase 3 by the end of this year ‘if all the stars are aligned’, Mr Wong said. Mr Wong was speaking at a press conference by the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19.

The timing of Phase 3 will be “contingent” on individuals doing their part.

Singaporeans must be mentally prepared for a rise in the number of community cases when more activities resume.

“People dining in groups of eight, weddings of larger sizes, places of worship with larger gatherings, events with a larger (number of) people coming together. With all of these activities in Phase 3, the risks of clusters forming will go up. It is inevitable, as we have seen in countries everywhere around the world.”

“We must be prepared to expect the number of community cases to go up perhaps to the low teens, maybe even to the 20s or upwards to the 30s,” Mr Wong said.

“We have to be mentally prepared for that and be ready to ensure that even if the local cases in the community were to rise, they do not form large clusters that are out of control,” he added.

Safe Management in Phase 3

The most important enabler is safe management.

“We do need to see Singaporeans taking today’s measures seriously because if people are not even responsible enough to uphold (them), then going for further relaxation is going to be very risky,” Mr Wong emphasised.

By keeping our social groups small, maintaining safe distancing and exercising social responsibility, we contribute to the nationwide effort to prevent spread.

With such measures in place, even if there is a COVID-positive case at any event or activity, the risk of spreading to a large number of people is limited, which will slow down the rate of transmission and therefore decrease the risk of large clusters forming.

Contact tracing and TraceTogether

Contract tracing plays a key role in limiting transmission. A condition for phasing in Phase 3 is the participation rate in TraceTogether.

The TraceTogether programme must see a participation rate of 70%.

You don’t need to collect a token to be part of the programme. You just need to download the TraceTogether app.

Mr Wong said, “The faster you download the app, the faster we get to a higher participation rate, the better the stars can be aligned. So consider downloading the app if you haven’t.”

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Improvement of testing capacities is progressing well. Singapore will continue to strengthen our testing capacities.

As more activities resume, there will be more needs. To support a larger range of needs, testing will be made more accessible for all.

From 1 December, any company or individual who requires a PCR test will be able to procure such services from approved providers.

This includes individuals who require pre-departure testing. Individuals will no longer be required to seek approval from MOH for pre-departure tests.

Pilots on pre-event testing using antigen rapid tests (ARTs) will continue. This will enable more large-scale and higher-risk activities to resume in a safer manner.

“We do have the testing capabilities in place, so we just need the contact tracing – TraceTogether – to be up. We need compliance with safe management measures to also be up there, and then with all three indicators showing the green light, we would be in a position to enter phase three.

“Exactly when that happens, we keep an open mind, we will watch over it very carefully,” he said.

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