No country is immune… as of Saturday, Singapore is taking a step back. Back to phase 2 until may 30th. While it’s really only a minor reset (group sizes reduced to 5, 2 social outings per day, some places closed, work from home back to 50%) it mentally feels bad. It feels like we did in March 2020. The uncertainty, the constant pressure to “behave” and follow all the covid restrictions, and most negatively, the xenophobic reactions. We are luckier than most as we are leaving soon and if Singapore goes into a full lockdown, we will pull forward our move and come home sooner.
The biggest change is the increased border restrictions. They are the strictest they’ve been since last April. Unless you enter from one of 6 countries (think Australia, New Zealand…) you will have to get government approval and then quarantine 21 days in a hotel room (up from 14 days). Yesterday they added the wrinkle that they will be canceling all approval entries for pass holders (this includes expats) through July 5th. So any expats looking to go home for the summer are in a VERY difficult position. I just feel bad. This isn’t what any expat signed up for. The sadness is palpable and it’s hard to know how this will ever end.
What precipitated this step back? Well we currently have 9 active “clusters” of covid. In a country where every case is traced and rooted out, this is not acceptable. The other 2 wrinkles are, some of the cases are the variant from India and a good amount of them are fully vaccinated (before you smugly think we are using a Chinese vaccine, we have only Pfizer and moderna available here). The good news is all the break through cases have been either Asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic. The bad news is it’s looking like they might still be transmitting the disease. Ultimately it’s frustrating and hard to know how covid will be contained when it’s testing what is arguably the best contact tracing system in the world and the best vaccines in the world. A few weeks ago it was looking possible that Asia would start loosening its border restrictions, but India is a setback for not only them, but definitely Asia, if not the world. It makes me happy to be heading back to my house with a yard, privacy and space. Singapore has definitely lulled us into a false sense of security and this has been a big wake up call that this is not going away soon.
Happily though, life keeps moving forward. Avery’s swim and taekwondo were unaffected by the restrictions. Sadly, Ella’s art class is canceled for now and Liam’s soccer matches are on hold. Oddly, Liam is heading to Universal Studios today with a friend and that seems a go. The pool remains open and most importantly, school looks to be ok to remain open through the end of the year on June 10th. So while we will try to live a little smaller for now, we will keep on living our lives.