Covid-19 Life in Singapore

[Millie] Never before has something like this happened. I remember seeing the news when the cases started being reported in China and thinking how awful it was people were getting ill from this, but then I flicked through my news app on my phone to the next story. I then remember watching the news as the cases were spreading and some were reported in Europe. Talks about closing down cities and countries were in progress. It still didn’t feel close to home yet. 

Then cases started appearing in the UK and in March 2020 we were told to stay home to save lives. It hit very close to home then. It was all over the news – I had to stop watching it after a while as it made me feel powerless, paranoid and almost claustrophobic that I couldn’t do anything. 

My husband and I both work in schools and were required to go to work to be with the key worker children. These were mostly the children of medics, delivery drivers and teachers. I felt anxious that I would bring home this virus and infect my family. The news seemed to show that you would get Covid-19 and be admitted to hospital and the thought of being taken away from my family was almost too much let alone worrying about the effect of Covid on my body. Little was known then and all the cases reported were extreme and frequently ending up in an ICU or worse.

We stayed home, went out for our permitted hour of exercise a day, did the home schooling thing for a while until we all got too stressed out and I felt like it was doing more harm than good to our children’s mental health. We had a garden in our home in the UK and the kids spent days outside, digging in mud, making fires and talking to our neighbours over the fence for some social interaction. 

Can you spot the kids in the field?

Our son missed his friends and family as did we and the rest of the world. My mind had been focussed on not getting ill from this I hadn’t realised the mental health implications on myself and our family. We got through a day at a time, sometimes in our pajamas and often with Netflix and Disney+. 

Whilst going through all of this we were planning to relocate to Singapore. It was touch and go at points but on July 6th 2020 we boarded a plane, with limited send off from a few family members, and took to the skies. We did our stay home notice – 14 days in a hotel. The only time we were allowed out was to take a covid test.  Have a look at our SHN experience over on our YouTube channel.

Singapore have managed to get the cases down low. A lock down or circuit breaker, as it was named here, was implemented early on and borders closed. Mandatory mask wearing was put in place for all over the age of two years old. We didn’t experience the circuit breaker here but arrived during their phase 2. 

Phase 2 meant limited numbers of groups meeting: 5 outside and 5 others into your home, checking in and out of locations with a QR code on your phone and booking in to some attractions as they had a reduced capacity. Temperature checks were required all over the city before you entered almost anywhere too. Some night life remained closed in this phase too. 

On December 28th 2020 we entered Phase 3, the level of regulations we are living in at my time of writing this blog. Capacity at some venues has increased, you can now meet in groups of 8 outside the home and have 8 people in your home which as a family of 4 is great news for us as it enables us to meet with another family or more friends. Scanning in with a QR code and having your temperature is still in place as is wearing masks. We’ve just adapted to it and get on with it. I’d trade wearing a mask for being able to spend time with family and friends and for my kids to be able to go to school any day. 

Places of worship can start to meet again with a limited capacity and being seated in non-mixing groups. We haven’t been able to attend a church service since March when the tighter restrictions started in the UK.

There are still a few restrictions in place at certain venues and some activities haven’t started up again yet but as the number of cases continue to be 0 or below 5 as they have been for the past few months Singapore will return closer to normal month by month. The vaccine is being distributed here already with health care workers as priority. Singapore in general seems to have pulled together to get through this with a sense of unity. I was waiting for a train the other day and there was a man in sports gear carrying a tennis racket without a mask. If you are doing strenuous exercise you can remove your mask. I politely reminded him he had forgotten his mask and he was thankful and a little panicked that he didn’t have one on and started to look through his sports bag for one. I had a clean spare and offered it to him as our train arrived. I knew he must have forgotten rather than objecting the laws. There are also enforcements and fines here for not complying with the tough regulations. Maybe that’s also a reason why everyone follows the rules! Whatever the reason, it is working so far in getting forward with re-opening Singapore.

Covid has affected almost the whole world but it will be different for every country and every person. Hang in there. It won’t always be this way. We will adapt and change. 

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