Singapore reopening strategy difficult to replicate across Asia

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The recent announcement by authorities in Singapore of “learning to live with COVID-19” calls into question how nations are handling their responses to the pandemic.

Initially focused on a zero transmission model, a recent article in the Straits Times indicates that the city-state’s Trade Minister is calling for citizens to “get on with their lives”.

However, it’s a notion that could be hard to replicate in nations with lower vaccination rates. 

Singapore has had a solid vaccination program, with over 2.14 million citizens receiving their second dose of vaccine as of last Friday. In a population of 5.7 million, at least 5.63 million people have received at least one shot of vaccination. Reuters data shows an average of 10 people infected per day, just 1 percent of the peak.

Compared to the Philippines for example, only 5 percent of the population has been given a vaccine. In Australia, only 8 percent have been fully vaccinated. 

Thus Singapore has been able to progress more quickly towards a return to normality, while Australia and the Philippines are still coming to terms with how to handle new outbreaks.

In the Philippines, president Rodrigo Duterte has extended the general community quarantine in Metro Manila to July 15th, with “some restrictions”.

This quarantine also covers Manila’s Entertainment City zone, housing the region’s casino resorts.

In the Philippines, at the current rate of vaccination it will take 102 days to administer enough doses for another 10 percent of the population, making it highly likely that further lockdowns will be implemented in the future.

Australia, meanwhile, is undergoing a new wave of COVID infections, causing casino and hotel closures in primary cities such as Sydney until at least July 9th.

Singapore doesn’t currently have a limit on capacity in casinos, but some limits have been set for entertainment and retail zones.

Australia is, however, planning four phases to transition out of the pandemic, but details of the later stages of the plan, unlike in Singapore, are still vague. 

This includes what percentage of the population it requires to be vaccinated in order to return to normality.

Thus, while operators across Asia may be keen to ease restrictions, they will continue to be dependent on how quickly federal and state governments implement their vaccination policies, and what benchmarks they set for reopening.