2020–21 Singapore circuit breaker measures

2020-21 Singapore circuit breaker measures
Part of the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore
Marina Bay Sands and ArtScience Museum lit up with messages of hope
Controlled entry into Compass One
Empty shelves after panic buying at a FairPrice supermarket
Tables and seats cordoned off with tape
(clockwise from top)
  • Marina Bay Sands and ArtScience Museum lit up with messages of hope
  • Controlled entry into Compass One
  • Tables and seats cordoned off with tape
  • Empty shelves after panic buying at a FairPrice supermarket
Date7 April 2020 (2020-04-07) – 1 June 2020 (2020-06-01) (1 month, 3 weeks, and 4 days)
Caused byCOVID-19 pandemic in Singapore
GoalsContainment of the pandemic
  • Closure of all non-essential workplaces
  • Closure of all schools, preschools, education, enrichment and student care centres except for essential care
  • Closure and suspension of religious activities
  • Restrictions on movement and gatherings
  • Food establishments only allowed to offer takeaways, drive-thru and delivery services
  • Masks no longer discouraged, made compulsory on 14 April 2020
  • Closure of some essential shops that were made non-essential from 21 April 2020 (some restrictions later lifted)
StatusLifted with a three-phased plan

The 2020–21 Singapore circuit breaker measures were a stay-at-home order and cordon sanitaire implemented as a preventive measure by the Government of Singapore in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country on 7 April 2020.

The measures were brought into legal effect by the Minister for Health with the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020, published on 7 April 2020.[1]

By May 2021, Singapore was in its third phase of lifting its circuit breaker measures. However, the nation returned to Phase 2 on 8 May 2021 for one week, before going into "Heightened Alert" from 16 May 2021 due to a rise in community cases resulting from the Tan Tock Seng Hospital cluster of COVID cases emerging from its wards, a cluster at Changi Airport, and the emergence of the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus.[2]

With its relative success in curbing the early spread of the virus in Singapore, the term "circuit breaker" and its measures was subsequently adopted by other countries, particularly in Canada and the United Kingdom.[3][4]


Singapore recorded its first COVID-19 case on 23 January 2020. With that, many Singaporeans have purchased and worn masks when not at home; practiced social distancing and on 7 February 2020, Singapore raised the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level from Yellow to Orange in response to additional local cases of uncertain origin.[5]

Prelude (27 March)

On 24 March, the Multi-Ministry Task Force announced more stricter measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, after a huge spike in cases originating from returning Singaporeans in the community. These measures include the closure of entertainment venues, tuition and enrichment centres and places of worship. Malls, retail establishments and tourist attractions were required to reduce their crowd density in order to stay open. Gatherings of more than 10 people outside of work and school are prohibited.[6]

Initial measures (7 April)

On 3 April, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced a nationwide partial lockdown, known as a circuit breaker, to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Singapore. These measures came after an increase of unlinked cases over the preceding month, as well as the risk of a huge cluster of infections. All non-essential workplaces closed from 7 April, with essential workplaces remaining open. All schools transitioned to home-based learning from 8 April. All food establishments were only allowed to offer take-away, drive-thru and delivery of food. Non-essential advertising at shopping centres are not allowed to be shown or advertised and only advertising from essential service offers and safe management measures such as mask wearing and social distancing are allowed. These measures would initially lapse on 4 May.[7]

On 14 April, then-Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong announced that the wearing of masks became compulsory when not at home with immediate effect, with fines and prosecution for offenders who refuse to do so.[8]

Tightened measures (21 April)

After discovering that the unknown number of cases was greater than expected, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on 21 April an extension of the circuit breaker to 1 June. Existing measures were also tightened until 4 May initially, including shrinking the list of essential services, such as closing all close-contact service providers such as hair salons, as well as restricting entry to certain hotspots like wet markets and some essential retail franchises going by the last digit of one's ID number.[9] Popular markets utilized an odd/even date entry restriction; ID ending with odd numbers are only allowed entry on odd dates of the month and ID ending with even numbers are only allowed entry on even dates on the month.[10] The Singapore franchise of McDonald's also shut all of its restaurants islandwide, as a response to a number of its employees being infected.[11]

Relaxed measures (2 May)

Some restrictions were relaxed progressively in stages to prepare for the end of the circuit breaker on 1 June. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) shops and essential condo activities were allowed to reopen on 5 May, followed by businesses like home-based bakeries (HBBs), some food shops, barbers (only basic haircuts), manufacturing of confectionery, and laundry shops on 12 May. Schools resumed face-to-face lessons for smaller groups in graduating cohorts and those requiring urgent assistance on 19 May.[12][13]

At the same time, the Ministry of Health (MOH) mandated the use of SafeEntry contact-tracing system at all businesses and services from 12 May, but does not include "transient" locations like the MRT or parks, although people are encouraged to scan to assist in contact-tracing efforts.[14]

On 8 May, the MOH announced that all TCM shops are allowed to sell retail products again from 12 May, after receiving feedback from seniors that travelling to the initially allowed 130 TCM medical halls was too far for them.[15]

Post-circuit breaker (reopening)

Three phases of planned reopening were announced on 19 May 2020, namely "Safe Reopening" (phase 1), "Safe Transition" (phase 2) and finally "Safe Nation" (phase 3); the third phase will last until an effective treatment or vaccine is found to stop the spread of COVID-19, which was approved in December 2020.

Phase 1 started on 2 June,[16] while Phase 2 started on 19 June.[17][18] Phase 3 started on 28 December with pre-conditions like the use of TraceTogether, compliance with safe management measures, and adequate testing capacity.

In addition, it was announced on 14 December 2020 that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved for use in Singapore, with the first batch slated for around end of December 2020.[19] On 3 February 2021, the Moderna vaccine was approved for use in Singapore, with the first batch slated to arrive around March 2021.[20] Subsequent batches for both vaccines are planned to arrive throughout 2021.[19][20]

After a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the community due to clusters linked to Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Changi Airport, a return to some Phase 2 measures was announced on 4 May 2021 under "Phase 3 Heightened Alert", taking effect between 8 May and 30 May.[21] Measures were tightened on 14 May 2021 through "Phase 2 Heightened Alert", taking effect from 16 May to 13 June.[22][23] With Singapore having fewer cases, all measures were rolled back to "Phase 3 Heightened Alert" in two transitions, on 14 June and 21 June.[24] As cases increased due to clusters linked to KTVs and Jurong Fishery Port, Singapore went back to "Phase 2 Heightened Alert" on 20 July 2021, taking effect from 22 July to 18 August. As the situation improved, some relaxations were announced on 6 August 2021 in four new stages, with the first steps taken on 10 August and the next stage on 19 August.

See also


  1. ^ "COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020". Singapore Statutes Online. 7 April 2020. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  2. ^ "Updates on Local Situation, Border Measures for Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Thailand and Precautionary Measures to Minimise Transmission from Tan Tock Seng Hospital Cluster". www.moh.gov.sg. 30 April 2021. Archived from the original on 5 May 2021. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  3. ^ Stewart, Heather; Marsh, Sarah (18 September 2020). "PM considers imposing Covid 'circuit break' across England". theguardian.com. The Guardian. Retrieved 17 December 2021. The notion of a “circuit breaker” – or partial lockdown – was introduced in April in Singapore by the prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong. It saw schools and all but essential workplaces closed, as well as restrictions on restaurants and other public places.
  4. ^ "'Circuit breaker' measures needed to prevent Omicron from overwhelming ICUs, science table says". cbc.ca. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 16 December 2021. Retrieved 17 December 2021.
  5. ^ "Coronavirus: Singapore ups outbreak alert to orange as more cases surface with no known links; more measures in force". The Straits Times. 7 February 2020.
  6. ^ "Coronavirus: All entertainment venues in Singapore to close, gatherings outside work and school limited to 10 people". Straits Times. 24 March 2020. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  7. ^ "PM Lee Hsien Loong on the COVID-19 situation in Singapore on 3 April 2020". PMO. 3 April 2020. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  8. ^ "COVID-19: Compulsory to wear mask when leaving the house, says Lawrence Wong". CNA. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  9. ^ "PM Lee Hsien Loong on the COVID-19 situation in Singapore on 21 April 2020". PMO. 21 April 2020. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Visits to popular markets to be restricted based on the last digit of your IC number". www.gov.sg. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  11. ^ "McDonald's Singapore suspends all restaurant operations, including delivery and takeaway until 4 May". The Straits Times. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  12. ^ Wong, Lester; Kurohi, Rei (2 May 2020). "Tightened circuit breaker measures extended for another week; some activities allowed to resume from 5 May". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  13. ^ Ho, Olivia (2 May 2020). "Coronavirus: Schools to bring back small groups of students from 19 May, with focus on graduating cohort". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  14. ^ "Easing the Tighter Circuit Breaker Measures, Preparing for Gradual Resumption of Activity After 1 June". MOH. 2 May 2020. Archived from the original on 14 May 2020. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  15. ^ Wong, Kai Yi (8 May 2020). "Coronavirus: All TCM shops allowed to sell retail products from 12 May". The Straits Times. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
  16. ^ "Ending circuit breaker: phased approach to resuming activities safely". www.gov.sg. 28 May 2020. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  17. ^ "Moving into Phase 2: What activities can resume". www.gov.sg. 15 June 2020. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  18. ^ "COVID-19: Phase 2 of reopening to start from 19 Jun, social gatherings of up to five people allowed". CNA. 15 June 2020. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  19. ^ a b "MOH | News Highlights". www.moh.gov.sg. Archived from the original on 14 December 2020. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  20. ^ a b "Second Covid-19 Vaccine Authorised for Use In Singapore". Ministry of Health (Singapore). 3 February 2021. Archived from the original on 27 April 2021. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  21. ^ "Updates on Local Situation, Border Measures and Shift to Heightened Alert to Minimise Transmission". Ministry of Health (Singapore). 4 May 2021. Archived from the original on 8 May 2021. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  22. ^ "Updates on Local Situation and Heightened Alert to Minimise Transmission". www.moh.gov.sg. 14 May 2021. Archived from the original on 14 May 2021. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  23. ^ "Group sizes down from 5 to 2, dining-in suspended as Singapore tightens COVID-19 measures". CNA. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  24. ^ Jalelah Abu Baker (10 June 2021). "Up to 5 in a group allowed from Jun 14; dining-in to resume on Jun 21 in phased easing of COVID-19 curbs". CNA (Channel NewsAsia). Retrieved 10 June 2021.

Media files used on this page

SARS-CoV-2 (Wikimedia colors).svg
Author/Creator: Geraki, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
SARS-CoV-2 logo in Wikimedia colors
WHO Rod.svg
The rod of Asclepius as depicted in the WHO logo.
Author/Creator: User:FoeNyx © 2004 (artistic illustration), Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
VIH - HIV / SIDA - AIDS viruses.
Safe-distancing measure - no social gathering dining together (49753010792).jpg
Author/Creator: Jnzl's Photos, Licence: CC BY 2.0
Barricade tape across tables and seats at hawker centre
Controlled entry into Compass One, 2020-05-16.jpg
Author/Creator: Btcprox, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
All incoming visitors have to queue up and provide their identification card (NRIC) for scanning before being allowed inside the mall, as part of Singapore's safety measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. This procedure retrieves the person's particulars registered in the national database, and logs in the check-in time into the mall, making the contact tracing process smoother. Just past the NRIC scanning station is a thermal scanner to stop visitors who might be feverish, and hence possibly infectious, from entering the mall.
Marina Bay Sands during Circuit Breaker.jpg
Author/Creator: maja kuzmanovic, Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0
The Marina Bay Sands and ArtScience Museum lit up with messages of hope amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore.
Ntuc super store, Singapore (49505410793).jpg
Author/Creator: cattan2011 from United Kingdom, United Kingdom, Licence: CC BY 2.0
Ntuc super store, Singapore - Singaporean clear out the supermarket shelves due to the Coronavirus: Singapore raises outbreak alert to Orange. Daily products such as toilet paper, rice, bread, noodle and vegetables are all sold out. My very first time to see the Singaporean gone into the panic mode of storing goodies at home