Singapore Closes Beaches, Plans Floating Shelters to Check Virus

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Singapore closed its beaches, and will make it mandatory for commuters to wear masks on public transport even after the end of the partial lockdown period to further control the spread of the coronavirus.

“Tougher measures” are necessary as safe-distancing measures aren’t being strictly followed, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wongwrote in a Facebook post. The government closed off some areas in parks and nature reserves on Friday.

“In theory, we could keep most places open, so long as safe distancing measures are strictly adhered to,” Wong said Saturday. “But increasingly we see that this is hard to achieve.”

Singapore has banned social gatherings and shuttered most workplaces till at least May 4 as part of measures to slow the pace of infections. Schools are also closed, and only those providing essential services are allowed to remain open during what it’s calling a “circuit breaker” period.

The government, which has distributed masks to each household, will make it compulsory to wear them on public transport even after the partial lockdown is over and buses and trains become crowded again, according to Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

“This will minimize transmission in public transport during post-CB period when safe distancing is compromised,” Khaw said in aFacebook post on Saturday. “To prepare for this, we will get commuters to wear masks, now, when using public transport.”

Khaw didn’t say how long it will remain mandatory for the masks to be used.

The country reported itshighest daily increase of infections Thursday with more than 200 of the 287 new cases linked to foreign worker dormitories, where inhabitants often stay in cramped conditions. The number of new casesdeclined to 198 on Friday.

Singapore will set up two floating accommodations to temporarily house healthy foreign workers starting next week, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said Saturday. Foreign workers will go through health checks including swab tests before boarding, and the government will arrange for their daily essential needs while a medical facility will be set up nearby on land.

The facilities housing thousands offoreign workers have emerged as one of Singapore’s biggest challenges in its fight to stem the coronavirus. With the new cases, those groups now account for about a quarter of all infections. There are more than 284,000 foreign workers in the construction sector, according to June 2019 data published by the manpower ministry. That accounts for nearly 5% of Singapore’s population of 5.7 million.

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