Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced during his National Day Rally last night (21 August) that mask wearing will soon be made optional both indoors and outdoors.
However, they will continue to be required on public transport and in healthcare settings such as hospitals, nursing homes and clinics.
Snippet of PM Lee’s announcement
Our Safe Management Measures (SMMs) have protected us well throughout the pandemic. We have adapted them to the changing situation, and gradually eased them as things stabilised.
Today, just two SMMs remain. You must wear masks indoors like you are doing unless you are on stage like me; and you must be vaccinated for higher-risk settings, such as F&B dining-in and large events.
With our situation stabilising, we will reduce the mask requirements further to prevent people from getting tired.
We will only require masks on public transport, where people are in prolonged close contact in a crowded space, and in healthcare settings, like clinics, hospitals, and residential and nursing homes, where there are vulnerable persons.
Everywhere else, outdoors or indoors, masks will be optional.
For schools in particular, we should not need masks in class. I know parents are a little bit worried, but I think there is no need to worry, we have assessed it, we think it is safe.
The children do need to be able to see the facial expressions of their teachers and of each other. You have to learn to read faces. Is he angry? Is he happy? Did he say ‘ter’ or ‘the’? ‘Ker’ or ‘ger’?
Otherwise you grow up with a blank space in your brain. It is crucial for their learning and development.
But please do not take off your masks this very moment. Please wait for the detailed announcement from the MTF.
Beyond these adjustments to SMMs, we must learn the lessons from COVID-19. One day, the next pandemic will come.
A new virus will emerge, more transmissible, more adaptable and more dangerous than COVID-19 and we must be ready for it.
The most important lesson is to maintain the spirit of personal and social responsibility, continue to nurture trust in our society, day in day out, during normal times, so that during the next crisis we can again draw upon a deep reservoir of trust to see us through, just like we have done during COVID-19.