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Singapore to lift most virus curbs in ‘significant step’

SINGAPORE (AFP) – Singapore will lift most of its strict virus curbs next week, officials announced yesterday, hailing a “significant step” towards normalcy.

Earlier this month the city-state re-opened its borders to all vaccinated visitors, joining other countries in the region that have recently dropped travel curbs as they shift to living with COVID-19.

Authorities announced plans yesterday to lift more measures, including scrapping all testing requirements for vaccinated travellers beginning on April 26.

Daily infections and hospitalisations have declined steadily in the past week, with under 3,100 local cases a day on average, the Health Ministry said in a press release.

“While this represents a significant step in our return to normalcy, the pandemic is not over,” the ministry said.

Also starting on Tuesday, group size limits and safe distancing requirements will be lifted, and all workers will be allowed to return to the office. People will no longer be required to check in with contact-tracing tokens or apps when entering most venues, but masks will still be required for indoor settings and on public transportation.

“With all these changes, we can now have a well-deserved breather after two very difficult years of fighting the virus,” said co-chair of a government task force fighting COVID-19 Lawrence Wong.

“But let’s always remember we are getting closer to the finish line but the race is not over. And the pandemic is certainly not over,” he added, warning that curbs could be reintroduced if a new variant poses a threat.

At the start of the pandemic, the country of 5.5 million kept COVID-19 cases low through border closures and a tough lockdown.

It has faced sizeable outbreaks since last year and, with some of the world’s highest vaccination rates, authorities shifted to a policy of living with the virus.