What has been the hardest part about the situation for you?
Life here in Singapore has become challenging due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Of course for me as a student the hardest past about the situation is the new teaching style adopted by the Ministry of Education known as Home Based Learning [HBL]. As part of this new style of learning all students have to study from home, meet with our teachers on Microsoft Teams and hand up our assignments online which can sometimes be quite difficult for me as I am not too good with technology.
What are the rules where you live, and when were they put into place?
Due to the increase in cases, elevated social distancing measures were put in place at the beginning of April. Schools and work places, cinemas, restaurants, shopping malls and various activity centers have been closed. Only essential services such as clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, hair salons, and markets are still open. We can’t dine out at restaurants anymore but thankfully there is still food delivery and getting take out from restaurants and hawker centers is still permissible. Wearing a mask when we go out is now compulsory for everyone. For people who do not adhere to this rule, or to the elevated social distancing measures they can be charged with a fine of SGD $300 for first offence and $1000 for a subsequent offence and so on.
How often do you leave your house (if at all)?
Usually, I only leave my house for essential purposes such as purchasing groceries. However, sometimes to get fresh air, I go for a walk, do some exercise or sometimes go for a drive with my family. Parks are still open but only for walks and jogs strictly with your household members. No hanging out for ball games and picnics etc.
When do you think the rules will be removed?
Our government started putting in place these elevated social distancing measures and shut down schools and works places on the 7th of April. If people adhere to these new measures, in my view we might start seeing a drop in the number of cases and as planned by the government these enhanced social distancing measures will be removed by the 5th of May.
How does the situation affect you?
As I’ve stated above, my school has been closed and I have to study from home. Teachers have started giving us extra work since we now have all the time in the world to complete it, and looking at the computer all the time does make me feel sick. However, on the bright side, this semester’s examinations have been cancelled!
Are you glad to be home?
I do of course miss my friends, miss playing sports and sometimes even miss my school. However, on a positive note, I do get to spend more quality time with my family which is hard for me to do on a regular basis, due to my hectic life as a student. I notice that many other families in my neighborhood are also spending more quality time with one another.
Are you bored?
Yes, of course the new rules such as the shutdown of schools, restaurants, cinemas and other activity centers does make me feel quite bored staying home the whole day which can sometimes even lead to frustration. There really is nothing else to do besides watching television, playing video games and of course my Home Based Learning (HBL), and going for walks or a jog. However, I always remind myself that I am no exception, people all over the globe are also facing these challenges.
How do you pass time?
Well, there aren’t that many ways to pass time so I do what most people do. Some examples include, watching shows on television, playing video games, exercising or listening to music. Some types of television genres I like to watch include action comedy or sci-fi and I mostly prefer listening to pop and jazz music.
How do you do groceries?
Well, of course I go to the supermarkets around my neighborhood to do groceries. Since there hasn’t been a full lockdown, I do my grocery shopping with parents as usual. However, I always remember to abide by the rules (e.g. wearing a mask and keeping a 1m distance from other customers.)
Do people follow the rules?
Yes, of course most people follow the rules. I notice many good Samaritans keeping a safe distance from one another, wearing a face mask and sometimes even correcting others who unknowingly break the rules. Unfortunately, there are as in most countries always a bunch of inconsiderate people (minority) who ignore these rules (so called, “covidiots”). Just a few days ago, I heard that 50 people were charged with a $300 fine for not wearing a mask in public places, thus endangering other people from getting infected.
Do you have any advice for others?
For fellow Singaporeans, please practice social distancing, always remember to wear a face mask and try not to go to crowded places unless it’s for essential needs (e.g. purchasing groceries or essential products such as medicine or collecting take-out from a restaurant). For residents from other countries, please do adhere to your own countries’ social distancing rules. Stay home, stay safe and stay healthy!
Is there anything else that you find interesting/would like to share about your situation?
Singapore was one of the first countries hit by the novel coronavirus on 23th January, 2020. At the start I only heard about 2 or 3 cases a day but as situation worsened over Chinese New Year, we saw a huge spike in cases. In the beginning, I heard that someone living near my neighborhood tested positive for the novel coronavirus and as the situation worsened, I heard that clusters started to appear near my school. Finally, one fine day while listening to the radio I heard that 3 people from my church tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. I got the shock of my life when I found out that the senior pastor got infected with the coronavirus. Before I knew it, our church had become the largest cluster in the whole of Singapore. Having visited the church twice that week, I myself was worried that I could have been infected by the novel coronavirus. However, miraculously everyone who was infected in the church has since fully recovered. All I’m trying to say is that don’t take this pandemic too lightly, you never know what tomorrow holds. For example, although cases in the local community have gone down we now face a massive challenge because the virus has infected a few thousand foreign workers in their dormitories. Although the virus is confined to those dormitories and hasn’t spread to the wider community because of the measures the government has taken in isolating and treating them, I feel for those workers and hope they will all recover soon.
19 April 2020