Masks optional from Aug 29 is testament to how far S’pore has come

24/08/2022

After 868 days of mandatory mask-wearing, Aug 29, 2022 will mark the first day that masks will be optional and only necessary on public transport and in healthcare settings.

This was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong at the Multi-ministry Task Force (MTF) press conference on today (Aug 24).

It’s been a long journey – a recruit would have enlisted and completed his NS obligation wearing masks – to reach this significant milestone in our efforts to live with Covid-19.

This calls for a pat on the back for Singaporeans, for adhering to safe management measures and getting our shots.

And at the heart of this milestone is the deep reservoir of trust between Government and people.

High trust society

Singapore is a high trust society, unlike other countries where even whether to wear masks can be hotly debated – a point made by PM Lee in his National Day Rally speech

We trust an open and honest Government that didn’t shy away from giving us the facts when things are not doing so well.

We trust a Government that falls back on science and data to lead us out of this pandemic.

Those are reasons why Singapore remains one of the few countries in the world with the highest vaccination rates.

Indeed. Vaccination remains the primary line of defence for such an open economy like Singapore.

DPM Wong told reporters: “Vaccinations are still the best way to protect ourselves against severe disease from Covid-19.”

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung credited the fact that 80 per cent of the population has taken their booster shots as a key reason why we were able to ride through the BA.5 wave without tightening measures and overwhelming hospitals.

Daily hospital cases dropped from more than 800 in July to below 400 today.

Up-to-date vaccinations

We’ve witnessed first-hand the good of vaccinations. But its protection won’t last forever.

That’s why we need up-to-date vaccinations.

DPM Wong said that the Government are reviewing the vaccination policy to transit to a system where vaccinations are kept up to date.

And that is important because the next Covid variant could be more aggressive and dangerous.

Minister Ong also said that we should prepare for a “northern hemisphere winter wave” at the end of the year, which the United States, United Kingdom and Europe are all bracing for.

Hence the need to build up our defences for any potential attacks from the virus.

But with experience and that deep reservoir of trust on our side, we can be quietly confident that we can ride any wave and start to co-exist with Covid-19.

Cover photo credit: Kai Pilger on Unsplash