It’s tough being cooped up at home.
We have been in Phase 2 for so long that we have forgotten how it is to hang out with more than five in a group, or have a night out on the town.
But there is hope in sight. Phase 3 might take place by the end of 2020, with up to eight people allowed in social groups and looser restrictions on locations like museums and places of worship.
Even better, Covid-19 vaccinations could possibly start next year, with priority given to more vulnerable segments of the population such as senior citizens or those in the Covid frontline.
It’s still not over
So far, so good. Things are looking up. Daily cases are in decline and Singapore continues to have one of the highest testing and recovery rates in Southeast Asia, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
However, many countries, such as the US, are seeing record high daily infections, with Italy and England considering new measures as cases in Europe continue to soar. Closer to home, we have also seen Malaysia re-implementing strict measures as yet another wave of infections have hit several states.
In Singapore, we have to remain vigilant because a second wave of infections can happen if we let our guard down. If that happens, stricter restrictions would have to be enforced once again.
According to a Sunday Times survey, almost 70% of people in Singapore say that the pandemic has lasted longer than they anticipated and 44% have become tired of rules to limit the spread as the outbreak drags on.
It seems the more successful we are, the more complacent we get. It is natural for quarantine fatigue to set in. But we must not become victims of our own success.
Just imagine having to go through a second circuit breaker!
For Phase 3 to take effect, there are certain guidelines to be met, such as having 70% of Singapore’s population on the TraceTogether app. This is to make contact-tracing more efficient by detecting the persons who have been in close contact with others who have had Covid-19.
It’s a team effort
In general, most of us have taken the measures in our stride even though we may have, at some time or another, forgotten to use a mask or skipped a Safe Entry check.
These momentary slip-ups are different from those who belligerently refuse to adhere to the measures. Restrictions only work when we all agree to follow them. Unfortunately, some of us don’t realise this.
The two most often highlighted scenarios are confusion over when to wear masks and breaches of safe management measures at F&B outlets.
There is another scenario that has been playing out often as well. That is deciding what to do when we see strangers, friends or family who are flouting, or planning to flout the social distancing measures.
Where do we draw the line between being righteous and self-righteous? When anxieties are high and tempers fly, many are quick to judge and slow to consider before calling a person out in public or online.
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Naming, shaming or blaming may feel good and may have some effect, but the best way for someone to change their behavior is understanding the shared situation that we are all in now. Empathy and giving others the benefit of the doubt should be our first step in any situation.
As citizens, we have a moral obligation to call someone out who may be putting others at risk, but it should be done in a gracious way.
Here is one approach you can use to diffuse disputes based on mutual respect and understanding.
When you see someone not wearing a mask, standing too close to you, or gathering in groups of more than five, instead of confronting the person, start a conversation in a non-judgemental way. Rather than growling “you should be wearing a mask” at him, try a polite “hi, you may have forgotten to wear a mask”, complete with a twinkle in your eye.
After starting the conversation, listen to what they have to say. In most cases, people are genuinely not aware of their mistake and will be thankful for the reminder. That would be the ideal. However, there may be instances where some people have their reasons for not complying with the rules. Listen to their reasons and render help, and if possible, offer advice.
If you have tried your best and the other party still refuses to cooperate, walk away from the situation and report it to safe distancing officers or via the OneService app and let the authorities take over.
This way, you don’t give recalcitrants a free pass, but you don’t start with blaming and shaming either. There is a difference between being a concerned citizen and a self-righteous vigilante.
Slow and steady wins the race
There are some who felt that the government was taking too slow of an approach to reopening Singapore.
In a reddit post, poster u/Kayrehn wrote: “I had hopes that SG can become like Taiwan and NZ [New Zealand] and proudly go about mask-less soon, but the govt clearly don’t aspire towards that goal. Imagine a full year of zero community cases while putting up with all this inconvenience. This is not proper risk management imo, thoughts?”
However, some comments spoke out in support of the care taken so far.
Redditor u/rootedandgrounded commented: “Would love to have more restrictions lifted but I see it as cautious steps against complacency. Knowing Singaporeans, it’ll be hard to revert back to tightening restrictions once we lift them all up. Really happy with the increase to eight a group though!”
Another redditor u/Ylong added: “I rather the government play safe than trigger another wave. Patience bro,”
It’s important for us not to take the low amount of cases for granted. Doing so will increase the chances of another wave of infections hitting our shores.
We have to keep it up
Just because we’re winning the fight, it doesn’t mean that the battle is over. We are but one battleground in the global fight against the virus, we can only declare a victory when the world is safe, not just us. It’s long, it’s difficult and it’s tiring. But our efforts cannot cease, not yet.
We’ve already done so well, the last thing we want is for all that we went through to be in vain.
We should always remember the importance of safety during this uncertain time. As long as we continue to take Covid-19 as seriously now as we did at the start of the pandemic, we can look forward to more outings and activities with our friends and family soon.
Additional reporting by Faith Lee