“The new normal: circuit breaker and spot checks”

Vrinda Kudaisya, 25, Singapore

Here in Singapore, the lockdown is officially referred to as “circuit breaker.” I think they don’t call it lockdown because it would sound too scary. Singaporeans already went through the 2003 outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which created a lot of panic. It’s exponentially worse with Covid-19. People are dying and the pandemic is seriously harming our economy, which Singaporeans are very focused on. The government just doesn’t want to freak people out any further, so they are carefully working on their messaging. But essentially what we are having is a lockdown — only essential businesses are open, you need to stay home etc.

We also get daily texts from the Ministry of Health with updates on the number of coronavirus cases and their specifics, such as whether the infected people are permanent residents or migrant workers. The large majority of cases have actually been migrant workers who got the virus in their crowded dormitories. They live in extremely poor conditions and the one positive thing about the virus is that it has finally highlighted this. Nobody ever brought so much attention to the issue before. Now there is a global outrage around it. 

The government is also meticulously keeping track of cases. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine went to a boxing class. It was later discovered that somebody else in the class had Covid-19. She was immediately notified about it and she was issued a two-week stay-at-home order.  When you receive a stay-at-home order, government officials can send you a message at any time asking for your location and you have to log into a portal to share it. They can also video-call you to check where you are or even do spot checks, personally showing up at your house.

I am a radio producer and I have been working from home, but most of my colleagues are still going to the office because they need specific equipment to record their voices. They could get a good mic and do it from home, but the quality in a studio is just completely different from the quality in your bedroom.

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