SINGAPORE – The law allowing authorities to impose Covid-19 control measures, such as a ban on social gatherings, has been extended for a year and is now due to expire on April 8, 2023.
The amendment to Part 7 of the Covid-19 Law (Temporary Measures) will allow the government to remain agile and adaptable to the evolution of the pandemic situation and to deal with possible new variants, the Minister of Health said on Friday. State Health Koh Poh Koon in Parliament (March 11).
“If Covid-19 ceases to be a threat before the end of this year, the regulations can be repealed and Part 7 can be allowed to expire,” he said.
“However, if more variants and waves of infection take hold, Part 7 regulations will continue to be important for the protection of public health.”
The law empowers the government to impose quarantine orders, restrictions on movement or entry to certain locations, bans on certain activities, and caps on group sizes, venue capacity, and hours of operation, among others in order to control the transmission of Covid-19.
Dr Koh said these measures, including vaccination-differentiated safe management measures (VDS), remain necessary for the time being.
“We will take a phased and calibrated approach even as we move towards a greater degree of normalcy in our communities, businesses, workplaces and travels.
On Friday, MPs backed the extension but called for clarity on the way forward and regular reviews of the need for Covid-19 measures.
Mr. Yip Hon Weng (Yio Chu Kang) said that specific indicators could be used to determine whether the measures should be extended. For example, an extension of a certain period of time could be triggered if the number of deaths reaches a particular rate.
“We need more specific goalposts and simplified measurements,” he said. “It’s so that the light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t seem out of reach.”
In response, Dr Koh said authorities were monitoring indicators such as the weekly growth rate of infections and deaths, as well as other metrics such as hospital occupancy and healthcare personnel, but he did not. there is no single set of metrics you can rely on.
“We need to stay nimble and consider all factors in designing any of these restrictions,” he said.
Mr Yip also asked if more could be done to encourage those who are still unvaccinated to get vaccinated, especially if they are not medically exempt.
Dr Koh said the Novavax protein-based vaccine has been approved for use here and is expected to arrive in the coming months.