Circuit Breaker Singapore - What You Can & Can't Do During This Period?
The “circuit breaker” is Singapore’s version of a nationwide lockdown. During this period, only essential businesses are allowed to operate, and everyone must stay home as much as possible. As the name implies, the circuit breaker measures are implemented to break the chain of coronavirus transmissions within the community. Find out all about the circuit breaker do's & don'ts, which businesses will still be open, where to buy essentials online, and how to maximise your household expenses during this period.
What Is the Circuit Breaker?
Singapore’s circuit breaker measures were implemented on 7 Apr 2020 to combat the spread of Covid-19. It's like a lockdown, but not quite - essential services are still operating, so your life can still go on.
What Happens After Circuit Breaker Ends?
After close to 2 months of circuit breaker, the circuit breaker measures are coming to an end soon on 1 June 2020. However, it's going to be a fairly drawn-out process. Singapore will gradually end it in 3 phases, spanning several months at least. See below for more details.
You Can Get Fined for Breaking the Rules
While the circuit breaker is in force (and perhaps after), there may be rules and regulations to be aware of. Those who break the circuit breaker rules can be fined up to a maximum of S$10,000 and/or be jailed for 6 months. Circuit breaker measures have been incrementally tightened, so we have updated this page with the latest rules. Don't break 'em!
What Are Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the End of Circuit Breaker?
After the months of efforts by Singaporeans to abide by the laws and staying at home more, the circuit breaker is now coming to an end. We can gradually restart our normal daily activities in three phases over the next months. Here's what they entail.
Starting from 2 June 2020, Singapore will enter Phase 1 to safely reopen the nation, with most of the existing restrictions to continue. This phase is expected to last for at least 4 weeks. See below for more details. Note that with the easing of circuit breaker measures, we might a rise in new cases. So, we encourage everyone to continue to abide by the rules, else stricter measures will be put in place again.
If all goes well in Phase 1, Singapore will transition to Phase 2 with more activities resuming. In Phase 2, gym, fitness studios and sports facilities will be reopened, while it might be possible to dine-in at food outlets and resume social activities in small groups. All students will be allowed to return to school and more tertiary students will also be allowed on campus. Phase 2 is expected to last for several months.
The final phase of the "new normal" is Phase 3. Only at this phase will gatherings or events of any types (social, cultural, religious or business) will be allowed, albeit at limited capacity. Other services and activities such as spas, massages, theatres, cinemas, bars, pubs and night clubs will only be allowed to resume in Phase 3 as well. Only at this phase, senior citizens can safely resume their daily activities, while keeping a safe distance from others and avoiding crowded places. We will likely be staying in this phase until an effective vaccine or treatment is found.
Circuit Breaker Fines for Non-Compliance
|Number of offences
|Up to $1,000 + may face prosecution
|Work Pass Holders
|Work pass revoked, barred from working in Singapore
|Higher fines and/or prosecution in court
When Can You Leave the House?
Let's put it this way. If you have to ask "Can I leave the house for this?", then you probably should stay home. Leaving your home is only permitted for the most basic of needs - you know, things like getting food, solo exercise and seeking medical help. Below is a list of legitimate reasons to leave your house during the circuit breaker. Please do not linger outside after you're done; go home right away.
You can leave home to buy essentials like groceries or food. You must do it alone and with a mask on, and leave as soon as you’re done. Dining in at F&B establishments is not allowed yet.
You can exercise outside, but alone and only within your immediate neighbourhood. You must wear a mask unless you are doing strenuous exercise. Gym, fitness studios and sports facilities will remain closed.
You can and should leave the house to provide assistance to seniors or persons with disabilities. Helping them includes assisting with daily needs (e.g. buying groceries, buying food) or taking them to the clinic.
Most Singaporeans will be allowed to go back to work starting from Phase 1. Workplaces can resume operation in settings with low risk of transmission. However, if you can work from home, you should continue to do so.
From 2 June 2020, if you are taking your national exams this year, you will attend school every weekday. The remaining students will alternate weekly between returning back to school and home-based learning.
You can go out to seek medical help for suspected Covid-19 infections and other urgent treatments or emergencies. From Phase 1, you can go to the dentist for essential, non-cosmetic dental services.
Starting 2 June 2020, you can visit your parents or grandparents who are not living together with you. However, only 2 people per household can visit them them in a day. You can also drop your children off at your parents' or grandparents' place for caretaking.
These would be rare, but if you get a law/court order, need to move house, or have to report for National Service, you can (of course) leave the house. From Phase 1, you can also leave the house to attend a wedding, funeral or go for private worship.
Most Places Will Be Closed Anyway
It's not like you will have much reason to leave the house during the circuit breaker, because most places that are not included in the above list will be closed for this period. As of 21 April, the circuit breaker measures were further tightened, meaning some shops and F&B outlets that were open at the start of the circuit breaker may now be closed. Let's see which stores are open and which are not.
Food & Beverage Outlets
Food outlets, including cakes and confectionary shops, can continue to operate during circuit breaker for take away and deliveries, but beverage stores (e.g. bubble tea shops) are closed. Dine-in options will only be made available starting from Phase 2, with safe-distancing measures in place.
Supermarkets & Convenience Stores
Even after circuit breaker ends, markets, supermarkets and grocery stores will continue to operate with restrictions. There may be restrictions on entry and other measures like temperature taking. Convenience stores located within parks will be closed (other outlets can continue to operate).
Personal Care Outlets
Pharmacies like Guardian and Watson will remain open during the circuit breaker. Optical shops can continue to operate by appointment only. Traditional Chinese Medicine shops are allowed to operate, but with strict limits, until Phase 2.
Other Retail Stores
All retail stores of a non-essential nature will remain closed, except for pet supply stores which reopened on 12 May. Starting Phase 2, most retail stores can resume operations with safe distancing measures in place.
Essential service providers like banks and post offices will be open. Starting from Phase 1, other services such as motor vehicle and aircon servicing, basic pet services, hairdressing services and various government service centres will be resumed, while tuition and enrichment centres will only be allowed to resume during Phase 2.
Buying Food & Groceries During the Circuit Breaker
Don't worry, we won't starve to death during the circuit breaker. Wet markets, supermarkets and grocery stores will still be open, while F&B outlets will be open for takeaway and delivery. The usual rules apply when going out to get food: Wear a mask, observe safe distancing, go home once you're done.
Special Rules for Buying Groceries
Although wet markets, supermarkets and minimarts will continue operating throughout the circuit breaker period, they may put in place additional measures to prevent crowds. For example, you may have to show your NRIC/FIN, complete a declaration form, and take your temperature before entering a supermarket or store. You may also need to wait outside if the premises are full. There are additional crowd control rules for selected wet markets, which we'll explain below.
Restricted Entry to Popular Wet Markets
From 22 April 2020, in order to reduce crowding, entry to 4 popular wet markets will be restricted:
If you’re heading out to visit these wet markets, here's how to plan your trip:
For those who require assistance with going to the wet market:
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Must You Wear a Mask?
You are required to wear a mask at all times when you’re out of the house. Not wearing a mask is considered a breach of the circuit breaker rules, and you can get fined (or worse) for it. However, you are allowed to temporarily when doing strenuous exercises - but you have to put it back on immediately after.
Mask Etiquette When Exercising
For safety reasons, you are allowed to go mask-free temporarily when doing the following strenuous exercises:
Other things you should note regarding exercise:
What Are the Rules for Businesses?
We’ve covered the circuit breaker rules for individual consumers extensively above. However, note that ALL businesses (including home-based businesses) must comply with very strict criteria in order to continue operating during the circuit breaker. If your business is found to have breached any of the rules, you may face a S$1,000 fine and be forced to close.
No Movement Allowed
Unless granted exemption, all businesses are to operate only online without requiring business owners or staff to leave their homes. Otherwise, they could face a S$1,000 fine for a first offence, with repeat offenders facing higher fines or prosecution in court. From 12 May, home-based food businesses can operate for contactless delivery or takeaways.
For essential businesses that are allowed to continue operating offline, employers must put in place distancing measures to avoid transmission of Covid-19 across workplace premises. These include: Not allowing teams working in different locations to interact physically with each other, implementing safe distancing measures at every workplace premises, and ensuring workers wear masks in workplaces.
Considering food is the main reason people leave their homes during the circuit breaker period, food safety is extremely important during this time. Therefore, breaching food safety rules comes with a heftier punishment. Personnel working in essential food businesses must keep their masks on. Otherwise, they will face a S$5,000 fine and/or suspension of their licenses.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you visit elderly family members?
- Yes, but only where necessary. You can visit elderly family members living in a different household to assist with daily needs, and to accompany them to medical appointments.
Can grandparents still take care of kids?
- Grandparents can continue to care for their grandchildren if they continue to stay together within this period. Parents can only drop their children off at their grandparents’ place for caregiving, but only if one or both parents are essential service workers and not able to work from home.
Can you leave the house to get something repaired?
- You can leave home to get emergency household services, including plumbers, electricians, locksmiths, repair of consumer electronics/IT peripherals/household appliances, and healthcare/veterinary services.
Can you visit friends, girl/boyfriends or relatives?
- No. You are not allowed to have social gatherings such as private parties or weekly get-togethers with friends/relatives who are not living in the same household.
When will schoolkids go back to regular schooling?
- We don’t know yet. But, for now, the mid-year school holidays will start almost a month early - from 5 May to 1 Jun 2020. Academic calendars, curriculum and exam dates will all be revised and sufficient help and support will be given to the students to cope.
What if your kids need help with school?
- Starting from 19 May, schools can bring back students from graduating cohorts in small groups for face-to-face consultation and lessons. Priority will be given to students who require school facilities. Note that during the circuit breaker, face-to-face home tuition is strictly not allowed.
The MoneySmart Covid-19 Survival Guide
For those of us hit by the Covid-19 downturn, surviving the circuit breaker is probably the least of our problems. What else can you do to get through this? Head over to our main Covid-19 resource hub to get practical advice on how to get financial aid, deal with debt, and make the most of your personal finances during the coronavirus period.