T+L reader and lawyer Ujjaini Ghosh, who currently resides in Singapore, shares her first-hand experience of living in the Lion City under lockdown. We asked her a few questions about life there right now and this is what she had to say. By Kumar Shree
1. When did you move to Singapore?
I moved to Singapore from London in 2011 for a new job.
2. What were your first thoughts when the lockdown was put in motion?
The lockdown was a natural progression starting from a range of measures introduced by the government since February. I would not describe the situation in Singapore as a ‘lockdown’ in true sense but more as a ‘circuit breaker’ i.e., a type of ‘partial lockdown‘ where a number of restrictive measures are put in place to control the spread of the virus. My first thoughts were (i) concern for my family members in India who I cannot visit in the event of an emergency given the travel restrictions in place. (ii) Uncertainty as this is an unprecedented situation where one does not know what the next day will bring. (iii) Working from home at this level did have its own teething issues.
3. Tell us about the ground reality that you are witnessing there during the lockdown. Are there any challenges that you are facing?
It is DIFFICULT to implement perfect social distancing unless there is a fear of sanctions such as a hefty fine. Humans are social animals and are tempted to at least stop and say hello when they meet. But I can see that everyone is trying to do their part. Recently there is a rule that anyone flouting social distancing rules will be fined $300 (INR 22,861) in the first instance and $10,000 (INR 762,050) or a jail sentence in the second instance.
4. What regulations have been implemented by the government there?
Regulations, amongst others, are in the form of (i) social distancing while heading out for early morning or evening exercises (individually and not in groups). (ii) Restriction on meeting family members or friends who do not live in the same residence under the same roof, breaching which would invite penalties or a jail term. (iii) Wearing masks while heading out to exercise or to the supermarkets for grocery shopping. (iv) Mandatory work from home unless one is an essential service worker. (iv) Malls and non-essential shops are closed. (v) We can order food from restaurants but dine-in is not permitted. (vi) Children’s parks and beaches have been closed as people were flouting the social distancing regulations.
5. Are people allowed to step outdoors at a certain time?
As of now, people can head out for grocery shopping and exercises, but this could change if people breach regulations by using exercise as an excuse to meet friends or start group activities. We are seeing restrictive measures rightfully being introduced every day as and when people are found breaching the regulations in place.
6. How is the government handling the pandemic?
The government is doing a fantastic job in handling this pandemic through contact tracing, aggressive testing, stay-at-home notice monitoring, etc., and budget allocations and relief measures for small and medium enterprises, companies and gig-workers to tide over this time.
7. Where would you like to travel to once this situation settles down?
I wish to travel to India to meet my parents and in-laws. Any other destination can follow after that.