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Singapore: COVID-19 Control Orders Extended to June 1

(May 7, 2020) On April 30, 2020, Singapore’s minister for health made an amendment to the COVID‑19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020 to extend the expiration date of the COVID-19 control orders under the regulations to June 1, 2020. The Control Order Regulations, which had been originally issued on April 7, 2020, under the authorization of the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 passed by the Parliament of Singapore on the same day, were due to expire on May 4.

The act grants the executive greater powers to issue control orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and provides temporary relief to financially distressed individuals, firms, and other businesses, as well as to those unable to perform contracts. It also contains temporary measures concerning the conducting of meetings and court proceedings and on the remission of property taxes.

Under the Control Order Regulations, all must wear masks over their nose and mouth whenever they are not in their ordinary places or residences. Those escorting children two years of age and above must also ensure that the children wear masks covering their nose and mouth whenever they are outside. The restriction does not apply to anyone engaged in any strenuous physical exercise, such as jogging or running, or a number of other specified circumstances. (§ 3A.)

Individuals who do not provide essential services are generally prevented from leaving their homes except to purchase necessities, seek medical treatment for COVID-19 or other pressing medical conditions, or respond to an emergency, or when required by law. (§ 4.) Those working at a nonessential service provider are restricted to working from home. (§ 11.)

Unless otherwise permitted under the regulations, meeting for any social purpose with others not living in the same place of residence is prohibited. (§ 6.) Moreover, all are required to keep a distance of at least one meter (about 3.3 feet) from others in any public place, except in cars or public transportation. (§ 7.)

The regulations effectively closed all public and private spaces except for essential service providers. (§§ 9 & 10.) The regulations do not apply to the government and specified schools, universities, and childcare centers. (§ 3.)

Singapore was able to keep the spread of the disease under control without implementing disruptive measures such as closing schools and businesses in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the city-state now has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia, with the total number exceeding 20,000 as of May 6, 2020.