Miss Cheng Li Hui: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (a) what is the impact of circuit breaker on our economy; (b) whether the extent is as anticipated; (c) what will trigger another circuit breaker; and (d) how prepared is Singapore should another circuit breaker be necessary.
Written Answer by Minister for Trade & Industry Mr Chan Chun Sing
1. On 3 April, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced a set of circuit breaker measures, including only permitting entities providing essential services to continue operating onsite with reduced manpower. This took effect from 7 April. Around 80,000 entities were allowed to operate, with 21% of our total workforce operating on-site. On 21 April, the Taskforce directed a further reduction in work premises which could operate on-site. Around 45,000 entities were allowed to operate, with 17% of our total workforce operating on-site.
2. We are acutely aware that the circuit breaker will disrupt businesses and have a substantial impact on our economy, but it is also essential in the fight against COVID19. Our primary objective in this fight is to save lives and protect Singaporeans and our families. We recognise that the more stringent the measures we put in place to curb transmission of the virus, the bigger the impact on our economy. But the alternative of not taking sufficiently stringent measures to curb the virus will result in more infections and more deaths.
3. We must therefore work together – business, workers and government – to make the circuit breaker as effective as possible so that we protect lives and recover faster and emerge stronger. Every business can play their part – strictly observe the circuit breaker measures and shut down onsite activities if you have not received approval to operate so that your workers and their families can stay safe. For essential firms that have to continue to operate, minimise the number of workers who have to travel to work onsite and make sure that safe distancing measures are implemented at the workplace. As long as we can keep the number of cases low, this will mitigate the need for a circuit breaker.