Dining in would have to wait, here's why

PHOTO: Reuters

Singapore might be exiting the circuit breaker on June 2, but the country's three-phase reopening would mean those planning to dine in at eateries would have to wait for at least another month.

Maintaining a degree of restrictions on the majority of activities during the first phase is something Professor Teo Yik Ying, Dean of National University of Singapore's Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, considers prudent.

He told the Straits Times: "We have seen that the virus is transmitted very well when people dine together, and there have been instances in Singapore where the spread was because people came together for meals."

Prof Teo said this in reference to one of the earliest Covid-19 clusters in Singapore, where 47 people were infected after attending a dinner at Safra Jurong back in February.

A recent experiment conducted by Japan's national broadcasting organisation, NHK, showed just how quickly someone with Covid-19 could spread the virus to others in the same room in just half an hour.

While Hong Kong has started to allow people to dine in at eateries, the decision was not made without putting strict safe-distancing measures in place, Prof Teo pointed out. At present, tables must be spaced 1.5 metres apart, and a maximum of only eight people are allowed at each table.

However, Singapore, like other countries, is still in the process of figuring out what works and what doesn't in what he termed as an experimental phase.

"We cannot say, 'This works in Hong Kong. Let's do it here.' The reality is that every country has very different contexts in this situation."

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rainercheung@asiaone.com