SINGAPORE: Singapore must “wait a little longer” for large gatherings as the Omicron variant has forced the Government to maintain strict measures, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sunday (Jan 30).
In his annual Chinese New Year message, Mr Lee urged people to exercise social responsibility and take precautions as they gather to celebrate during the festive period.
“Please remember to adhere to safe management measures, and keep up basic hygiene practices such as washing hands and using common utensils when sharing food,” said Mr Lee in a Facebook post.
“If you feel under the weather please stay at home, isolate yourself and get ample rest, just in case you are infected. There will be ample time to catch up on New Year visiting after you recover.”
COVID-19 safe management measures remain unchanged during the Chinese New Year period, with a maximum group size of five for dining-in and daily household visits.
Mr Lee said that many families have done their best to adapt during the pandemic and learnt to stay connected through the Internet.
“With vaccinated travel lanes opened and international travel progressively resuming, hopefully more families can reunite and celebrate Chinese New Year together this year,” he added.
Noting that Singapore started vaccinating children aged five to 11 on Dec 27, Mr Lee said the campaign has seen a “good response” and encouraged parents to get their children inoculated.
“Vaccinations are safe and effective. They reduce your chances of contracting COVID-19, and more importantly greatly lower the risk of serious complications, including for the Omicron variant,” he said.
MARRIAGES AND BIRTHS
Turning to marriages and births, Mr Lee said that the number of marriages in Singapore has returned to pre-pandemic levels after two years of COVID-19.
In 2020, citizen marriages in Singapore plunged to the lowest level in 34 years and citizen births reached a seven-year low as the pandemic disrupted couples’ plans.
“While COVID‐19 initially caused a dip in the number of weddings, I am glad many couples have since gone ahead with their plans,” said Mr Lee.
Birth numbers have fallen slightly, but “not as much as we had feared”, he added.
“I hope that marriage and birth numbers will come roaring back in the Year of the Tiger,” said Mr Lee.
“In the new year, let us work together to resolutely overcome the pandemic with the strength of the Tiger, and seize new opportunities to build a better Singapore with the boldness of the beast.”