2020–21 Singapore circuit breaker measures

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2020–21 Singapore circuit breaker measureses
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)

Date7 April 2020 (2020-04-07) – 1 June 2020 (2020-06-01) (1 month, 3 weeks, and 4 days)
16 May 2021 (2021-05-16) – 13 June 2021 (2021-06-13) (4 weeks)
22 July 2021 (2021-07-22) – 9 August 2021 (2021-08-09) (2 weeks and 4 days)
Caused byCOVID-19 pandemic in Singapore
GoalsContainment of the pandemic
  • Default remote work for non-essential workplaces
  • Default Home-Based Learning (HBL) for all schools
  • Closure and suspension of religious activities
  • Restrictions on social gatherings/home visitors (during lockdown, only 2 person is allowed; otherwise 5 persons)
  • Food establishments are prohibited from dining in, only allowed to offer takeaways, drive-thru and delivery services
  • Masks were made compulsory from 14 April 2020 and relaxed on 29 March 2022 (outdoors) and 29 August 2022 (indoors), and the remainder on 13 February 2023 (public transport and some healthcare areas)
  • Closure of some essential shops that were made non-essential from 21 April 2020 (some restrictions were lifted on 12 May 2020)
StatusAll restrictions were lifted by 13 February 2023

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] Singapore was enjoying zero COVID cases until these were changed due to the Delta and Omicron COVID-19 variant from 8 May 2021 to 29 March 2022.[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)[edit]

On 24 March, the Multi-Ministry Task Force announced 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]

Lockdown measures[edit]

On 3 April 2020, 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. Most of the workplaces were converted to remote work as default during the lockdown and schools were transitioned to home-based learning thereafter. As dining-in is a high-risk activity; 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 only took effect from 7 April 2020 to 1 June 2020,[7] 16 May 2021 to 13 June 2021[8] and 22 July 2021 to 9 August 2021.[9]

Also, social gatherings from 5 May 2020 to 1 June 2020, 16 May 2021 to 7 June 2021 and 22 July 2021 to 9 August 2021; were then reduced to two. Home visitors were reduced to two as well per day.[citation needed]

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.[10]

Tightened measures (21 April)[edit]

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.[11] 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.[12] On 21 April, the Ministry of Education brought forward the 4-week school holidays for all MOE Kindergartens, primary, secondary and Pre-University students, which are usually held in June, to May. Institutes of Higher Learning extended their Home-based Learning.[13] The Singapore franchise of McDonald's also shut all of its restaurants islandwide, as a response to a number of its employees being infected.[14]

Relaxed measures (2 May)[edit]

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, 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.[15][16]

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.[17]

SafeEntry and TraceTogether[edit]

The Ministry of Health mandated the use of SafeEntry and TraceTogether, which is also called TraceTogether-only SafeEntry (TT-only SE) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Scanning in/out using the TraceTogether-only SafeEntry (TT-only SE) either through the TraceTogether app or token was made mandatory for all Singaporeans and at all places such as cinemas, restaurants, workplaces, schools and shopping malls for contact tracing purposes. These included the device called SafeEntry Gateway (Check in and check out) to enable users to scan in and out. In addition, TraceTogether also showed vaccination status and pre-event testing (PET) status whether the person test positive or negative for COVID-19. Tokens could be collected from the community centres and vending machines.[18][19][20][21][22]

Post-circuit breaker (reopening)[edit]

Earlier in 2020, there are three phases of planned reopening were announced, which is only relevant in the zero-COVID strategy. These were however ended on 8 May 2021 because of the Delta variant.

  • Phase 1 (as in the loosened form of Heightened Alert) started on 2 June 2020. These include gatherings of up to 5 persons and home visitors of up to 5 persons, but no dining-in and unmasked activity is allowed.[23]
  • Phase 2 between 19 June 2020 (with dining-in and unmasked activity of up to 2 persons) and 17 July 2020 (with dining-in and unmasked activity of up to 5 persons).[24][25]
  • Phase 3 officially started on 28 December 2020 until 8 May 2021.

Restrictions due to Variant of Concern (Delta and Omicron) started on 8 May 2021 and ended on 29 March 2022, it was only able to have 2 and 5-person gatherings. Two lockdowns are from 16 May 2021 to 13 June 2021[26][27] and 23 July to 9 August 2021, but in between 14 June 2021 and 23 July 2021, the government only had a planned reopening for all similar to June 2020.[28] The government then changed the reopening plan to only allow vaccinated persons to use the services from August 2021.[29] Singapore has phased out its zero-COVID strategy on 9 October 2021. All remaining COVID-19 restrictions were lifted progressively on 29 March 2022 and 26 April 2022; but mask wearing is optional outdoors. Remaining mask regulations for indoor areas were removed on 29 August 2022, except in medical settings and public transportation, with the rest removed on public transportation and some medical settings on 13 February 2023.[citation needed]

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.[30] On 3 February 2021, the Moderna vaccine was approved for use in Singapore, with the first batch slated to arrive around March 2021.[31] Subsequent batches for both vaccines are planned to arrive throughout 2021.[30][31] A mass vaccination campaign was launched, and has been successful in achieving a very high vaccination rate.[32]

See also[edit]


  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". 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. ^ "Singapore returning to lockdown-like conditions as COVID cases rise | The Indian Awaaz". 15 May 2021.
  9. ^ "Reverting back to Phase 2 (Heightened Alert)". Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  10. ^ "COVID-19: Compulsory to wear mask when leaving the house, says Lawrence Wong". CNA. Archived from the original on 21 April 2020. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  11. ^ "PM Lee Hsien Loong on the COVID-19 situation in Singapore on 21 April 2020". PMO. 21 April 2020. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  12. ^ "Visits to popular markets to be restricted based on the last digit of your IC number". www.gov.sg. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  13. ^ "Mid-year Holidays Brought Forward as Schools Adjust Academic Calendar; Institutes of Higher Learning to Extend Home-based Learning". Base. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  14. ^ "McDonald's Singapore suspends all restaurant operations, including delivery and takeaway until 4 May". The Straits Times. 19 April 2020. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ "COVID-19: New app launched to help monitor and report migrant workers' health status". CNA. Archived from the original on 5 June 2020. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  19. ^ Wong, Lester (16 June 2020). "All foreign workers have to download and activate TraceTogether app by June 19: MOM". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 16 June 2020. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  20. ^ "Use of TraceTogether app or token to be made compulsory for people attending large events, high-risk activities". TODAYonline. 4 October 2020. Archived from the original on 11 October 2020. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  21. ^ Wong, Lester (20 October 2020). "TraceTogether check-ins to be compulsory at public venues in S'pore by end-December". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 22 October 2020. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  22. ^ "Mandatory TraceTogether-only SafeEntry brought forward to May 17". CNA. Archived from the original on 10 May 2021. Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  23. ^ "Ending circuit breaker: phased approach to resuming activities safely". www.gov.sg. 28 May 2020. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  24. ^ "Moving into Phase 2: What activities can resume". www.gov.sg. 15 June 2020. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  25. ^ "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.
  26. ^ "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.
  27. ^ "Group sizes down from 5 to 2, dining-in suspended as Singapore tightens COVID-19 measures". CNA. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ Auto, Hermes (6 August 2021). "S'pore to allow dining in from Aug 10, group size cap eased to 5 for those fully vaccinated | The Straits Times". www.straitstimes.com. Retrieved 31 January 2023.
  30. ^ a b "MOH | News Highlights". www.moh.gov.sg. Archived from the original on 14 December 2020. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  31. ^ 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.
  32. ^ Welle (www.dw.com), Deutsche (29 August 2021). "Coronavirus digest: Singapore is now the most-vaccinated country | DW | 29.08.2021". DW.COM. Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 6 November 2021.