New measures could have been avoided if social distancing was taken more seriously: Expert, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

New measures could have been avoided if social distancing was taken more seriously: Expert

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Closure of entertainment outlets may not have been needed had social distancing been taken more seriously, says expert

Singapore's latest move, to shut entertainment outlets such as bars, clubs and cinemas, could have been avoided if more Singaporeans had taken social distancing seriously.

Professor Dale Fisher, chair of the World Health Organisation's Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network, said he supported the move, which was announced last night.

The professor, from the National University of Singapore's Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, said: "Singapore has appealed to its population for several weeks now about social responsibility, yet still we see crowds at restaurants and other places... it's like nobody is watching what's happening in Europe."

He added that it was right for the Government to step in.

"Singapore cannot afford a cluster of 100 people suddenly, who could then spread it to 1,000 people in just two weeks," he said.

Local DJ-actress Jade Rasif told The New Paper she too fully supported the move.

She said that while measures such as temperature-taking and travel declarations were implemented by nightclubs here, clubbers were still being put at risk by those who allegedly went out despite being sick.

"I don't care if I don't make money in the next few days. It's a very small price to pay to protect others," she said.

But clubbers who spoke to TNP said they were disappointed.

Polytechnic student Glynis Ang, 19, who had plans to go clubbing tonight, said she took it as a wake-up call.

"I can live without going to the club, but the fact that our Government has decided to take such measures scares me more, because it shows how serious the situation is," she said.

Said Miss Marisa Jayne Murali, 20, also a polytechnic student: "I'm just really sad that now I can't go out to drink or party it up with my friends."

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the Multi-Ministry task force, said last night that while there have been adjustments since measures for safe distancing were introduced, the adjustments are taking place too slowly.

"You still hear anecdotes of people gathering in crowds, in discos where there are large social gatherings, which can easily become super-spreader events, and then another cluster will break out after that," he said.

He added that affected businesses were considered before the decision on the new measures was made, and that help for them would be announced tomorrow.

Mr Wong said that "all over the world, millions of people are living in a different reality", with workplaces closed, shops and roads empty, and everyone asked to stay home.

"We are not experiencing this in Singapore - not yet, but we cannot be complacent," he said.

"We have to take seriously the measures to protect ourselves, our family members and the people around us."