Singapore delays reopening plans after karaoke club cluster

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: People sit on the banks of the Singapore River at Clarke Quay in Singapore

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore said on Friday it would retighten some restrictions on social gatherings, including allowing only two people to dine-in at restaurants, from next week to combat a rise in COVID-19 cases linked to clusters of infections at karaoke bars.

However, authorities will allow fully vaccinated individuals to continue to eat inside in groups of up to five at restaurants that have sufficient checks in place.

The new curbs start from next Monday and are due to run through to Aug. 8, by which time Singapore is expecting to have two-thirds of its population fully vaccinated.

"There is a real risk that the cases from these clusters would have spread to the community, especially if there are individuals who have not come forward on testing," said Lawrence Wong, finance minister and co-chair of the government's coronavirus taskforce.

"Potentially, this means that we can see very large clusters emerging over the coming weeks," he said.

Authorities also ordered some 400 nightlife establishments to close for two weeks for inspections, after the flouting of rules by some was blamed for the latest outbreak.

As of Friday, 2,480 individuals had been quarantined as they were identified as close contacts of the infected people, according to health minister Ong Ye Kung.

Singapore is racing to find people linked to the clusters at karaoke or KTV lounges and bars, but there are concerns some patrons could be reluctant to come forward.

The government has appealed to guests who recently visited any KTV lounge or interacted with a hostess to get tested, promising that privacy would be protected.

The city-state on Monday eased some restrictions, but driven by the new clusters it reported 53 new local cases on Friday, near a 10-month peak hit earlier this week.

(Reporting by Chen Lin and Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore; Editing by Ed Davies)

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