Comments on online petition calling for gatherings to be allowed ASAP reveal desperation to socialise

PHOTO: Screengrab / Change.org

Getting cooped up at home for months on end is understandably exhausting for a number of reasons — the main one being the misery from feeling isolated and physically cut off from the rest of the world. 

Though some will actually miss the circuit breaker (we see you, introverts), many others want it to end as soon as humanly and legally possible. Over 10,000 Singapore residents, if we’re judging from an online petition, are urging the government to let people meet up with their friends and do the things that friends do together after June 2. 

But why June 2? That’s when phase one of the post-circuit breaker measures kicks in, where workers in critical sectors and businesses are allowed to return to their workplaces so long as they are operating in an environment with lower transmission risk. Schools will gradually reopen, and places of worship will be allowed to open only for private services. 

Social gatherings, however, will still be prohibited. Exceptions are made for people visiting their parents or grandparents, but even so, only two family members from the same household can visit per day. 

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It’s a cause of contention for the people behind the online petition, which was launched last week. Spearheaded by Jayden Pang, the petitioner argued that human beings are “social creatures and require physical interaction”, which is why the government should let people meet up — in small groups, he stressed — for their “mental well-being”. 

“The past few weeks have demonstrated that we can mostly be responsible. Let us have some degree of freedom again — for our sake and for the country's sake,” Pang wrote in his campaign’s description. 

His dramatic words seemed to have struck a chord with thousands of Singapore residents, especially expats here.

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Posted by Veronica Rolid on Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Allow limited social interactions after June 2nd onwards. “The past few weeks have demonstrated that we can mostly be...

Posted by Yumi Kitahama on Thursday, May 28, 2020

This, despite National Development Minister Lawrence Wong assuring that people will indeed be allowed to meet friends (in groups of five or fewer) in phase two of Singapore's reopening. The second phase, dubbed the “safe transition”, will kick in only after community transmission rates remain low and stable. 

"This is great but still too late," Pang wrote in an update. 

What Pang and his supporters want is to hold gatherings with friends as early as next week — the logic here being that community transmission numbers are already low. From the comments left on the petition though, it paints a picture of despair and gloom by people desperate to meet anyone outside of their household. 

PHOTO: Change.org screengrab

It’s a different picture, however, from the anti-lockdown protests that have popped up in the United States. Though the vast majority of Americans support social distancing measures, a small but loud minority have been out and about to demonstrate against the impositions.

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Posted by CNA on Thursday, May 28, 2020

Everyone’s frantic to connect, but the truth is that human-to-human touch isn’t going anywhere — fleshly contact with friends will happen eventually. Phase two could even kick in by the middle of June, anyway, so it's entirely possible that you could be shooting the breeze with your buds within a few weeks time. 

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ilyas@asiaone.com