July 22, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

In early parts of the pandemic Australia and Singapore had similar success in keep cases low and everyday life running close to normal.

Singapore capitalised more on its potential to host international business events while case numbers were low, at one stage opening up the city-state to international business events of up to 750 delegates.

However, like Australia, Singapore is now struggling with yet another wave of COVID-19 infections which has suddenly resurged, even after the country spent weeks in a form of lockdown-lite in May and June, due to multiple outbreaks.

From June 14, MICE event sizes had been pushed back up to 250 attendees with pre-event testing (PET) – events of 50 pax or less were not required to undertake PET. From July 12, restrictions were further loosened, allowing groups of up to five people to dine together at restaurants.

However, in the last week cases have sky-rocketed – 179 locally acquired cases were announced yesterday and there have been 767 local cases in the last seven days.

In response, the Government instigated a raft of new restrictions, from July 19, including reducing dining groups to two people – just a week after permitting larger groups – and, from today, pushing business events group sizes back to 100 with PET and 50 pax without.

One outbreak source is believed to be nightlife venues – in particular, karaoke bars – being allowed to pivot to become food and beverage outlets, after advocacy from the industry, while other major outbreak sources have been discovered at a fishery port, and at several wet markets and hawker food centres.