The Disappointment of Phase 1

Photo by Anna Shvets on
Effectively, Phase 1, for most retail and health and fitness outlets.

When the plan for Safe Re-Opening was announced in Singapore, I don’t think I was the only person who was surprised and honestly, disappointed, by the approach. Safe Re-Opening was supposed to happen in 3 Phases, with Phase 1 starting from 2nd June. Phase 1 was not exactly a major ‘lifting’ of the Circuit Breaker.

Many were disappointed because Phase 1 seemed a bit too cautious. Essentially, little would have changed between Circuit Breaker and Phase 1, except for schools re-opening, barbers and hairdressers being able to offer all services ( yay?), visits to grandparents and parents being allowed and a few expansions to essential services.

For us sports people, nothing much would have changed. Yes, we get to conduct ‘e-cca’ for judo, but judo clubs and businesses have to stay shut in Phase 1. Admittedly, there was an expectation that we would go back to doing judo after 1st June. How? It’s hopeful but at the back of my mind I was hoping the principle of ‘small group sizes/less than 10 people’ would be ‘safe-distancing’ enough.

Judging by the nature of Phase 1, and what has been articulated about Phase 2 so far, I’m not very hopeful that judokas in Singapore will get to go back on the mats anytime soon. It will be really hard to implement ‘safe distancing’ measures in any contact sport, let alone a close contact sport like Judo.

Before the Circuit Breaker began and measures were rolling in ad-hoc, I attempted implementing safe distancing measures in the coaching course I conducted for SJF. It was neither ideal nor fun – we couldn’t demonstrate with our partners, and many coaches had to use a heavy, stiff dummy to carry out micro-coaching. Sitting 1m apart was fine during lecture, but being 1m apart in practical sessions for judo is just…not practical.

I suspect there will be greater discussion of this once we transit to Phase 2, when gyms and fitness studios are allowed to operate. Till then, we will just have to delve deeper into Zoom Judo.

Hari Raya 2020 has been…Postponed?

Hari Raya Covid19 edition check : Baju Kurung, Smile( not seen in photo), Mask, Foggy glasses, Home-baked Cheesecake

I don’t mean a literal postponement. Hari Raya Aidilfitri for 2020 was officially celebrated on 24th May 2020, today.

It was a muted affair for most of us, especially my family. Ever since my grandmother passed on in 2018, we haven’t had anybody to visit on the first day of Hari Raya. Many families celebrating raya would visit their eldest relative on the first day – grandparents, parents, or the eldest sibling – and follow up with visits to friends and relatives throughout the month of Syawal. I have been skipping the second part for many years, but this year, I won’t be the only one having to do that. Thank you Circuit Breaker for making me seem less anti-social this year.

Actually, it may not have been that muted for some people today. I have a habit of buying kopi siew dai from the coffeeshop downstairs in the morning. When I went downstairs today, I saw a traffic police officer on his bike in the middle of the car park. As someone who used to drive, a TP officer standing beside his big white bike is quite an imposing presence. You never know when you might kena saman.

But I was an unaffected pedestrian, so I was more curious as to why he was just there standing at the carpark. Was there a vehicular altercation somewhere? Perhaps. But wouldn’t the first responders to such ‘neighbourhood cases’ be our friendly Special Constables in blue?

In any case, I paid no heed ( ie minded my own business), until my mum asked me if I saw Safe Distancing Ambassadors outside. Apparently, according to my mum and her makcik network (not always a reliable source), there were Safe Distancing Ambassadors out and about today. By that, I think she meant ‘proactively’ out and about. From a policy enforcement perspective, I can imagine why. Was it true? I don’t know, but that TP at the carpark would have been quite a deterrent for any family intending to drive off in their matching baju kurung.

But the instinct to celebrate is there. For some, visiting relatives, especially elderly relatives, is a must-do for Hari Raya Aidilfitri, which technically lasts for a month. The CB made it impossible on 24th May, but come 1st June, I wouldn’t be surprised if those matching baju kurung outfits come out in full force to go visit ‘lonely’ grandparents/elderly parents. Two by two, according to the rules. Hence, postponing first day festivities by a week or so.

I wouldn’t do it though.

Have you done your PCR check?

Phase 1 of Singapore’s Safe Re-opening has includes this provision, and I quote from :

“Each household can visit their parents or grandparents staying elsewhere. However, all households are to limited one visit per day, and not more than two persons who must be from the same visiting household. Dropping off children at parents’ and grandparents’ homes for childcare will be allowed.”

This was an exception granted during Phase 1 – friends, siblings, relatives from different households still can’t meet but you can go visit your lonely grandparents.

Good initiative. If only the science of Covid-19 agreed.

There is much to be known about Covid-19, but what is fairly certain is that people from the older age groups are more vulnerable, cf Italy. And some scientists believe in the possibility that children are asymptomatic carriers, maybe even ‘super spreaders’.

So here’s a thought :

Should my niece, who would have gone back to pre-school during Phase 1, visit my mother( her grandmother),who is approaching 60, to celebrate Hari Raya? I’m betting they will salam, hug, play games, be in close contact, etc.

My heart says, of course lah. But my mind says, wait a minute…