AFTER a third round of COVID-19 relief measures, presented by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, many Singaporeans can take some measure of comfort in their small share of the $59.5 billion that has been set aside to tackle these difficult times.
While businesses and employees get benefits, and individuals are provided relief by the Unity, Resilience and Solidarity budgets, these alone may not be enough to keep many businesses from folding and many households already living from hand-to-mouth from sliding into desperation.
With COVID-19 there was scant time to prepare for a rainy day. It showed that no country really had a handle on how to tackle this pandemic.
Singapore’s gently-gently approach resulted in the message of social distancing and self-isolation not getting through to groups of people — some in masks, many without — who thronged parks, shopping centres, IKEA (for the meatballs or study desks?) and other attractions as a last-ditch stab at freedom before the “circuit breaker” kicks in on 7 April and everyone is forced to stay home.
It’s almost guaranteed that many will have reason to go out to grab essential items on a daily basis. Without stronger controls, the spread of COVID-19 will likely continue.
Since everyone is expected to be at home for a month (for now), the atmosphere at home will be quite charged. Time to stay cool and appreciate that it’s necessary to remain indoors and feel the family love as you flatten the curve.
Regular hand cleaning is another critical area of control, be it with sanitizers or with soap at home.
The power and water bills are going to rise as domestic appliances are used more, the air-conditioner runs longer, and more food is cooked at home.
And everyone should wash their hands more frequently. This would have been a good time to offer a discount on utilities — perhaps 50% off while the circuit breaker is in place — so that all households can try to keep hygiene levels up.
It will also help households that are facing difficult times with some relief while keeping with the national programme to help fight the virus.