Singapore Eases COVID-19 Lockdown: What Businesses Can Operate?

Posted by Written by Ayman Falak Medina Reading Time: 2 minutes
  • Singapore began easing its lockdown measures on May 5, 2020, by allowing certain businesses to operate.
  • The opening of the economy will occur in gradual steps, beginning May 5, 12, and 19 with the government planning new guidelines on how business can resume after these dates.
  • The list of activities that can continue to operate will be continually updated on the GoBusiness website.

On May 5, 2020, Singapore began easing its strict social and physical distancing measures labelled, the ‘circuit breaker’, while still maintaining the partial lockdown until June 1. Under this policy, only essential businesses were allowed to operate and residents only able to leave their homes to buy groceries or for healthcare.

The government plans to open the economy in phases, meaning certain sectors will have priority over others, such as those with links to the global supply chain. Further, businesses will also have to put in place the necessary safety measures to start operations again. 

More business activities will resume on May 12 and May 19, and new guidelines will be issued on how other businesses can resume after these dates.

Despite the country registering more than 19,000 cases, around 85 percent of these have occurred among the country’s migrant worker communities living in dormitories. The rate of community transmission, however, remains low and has largely stabilized with an average of 12 new cases per day.

The list of activities that can continue to operate will be continually updated on the GoBusiness website.

What activities were allowed on May 5?

On May 5, the government allowed Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture activities to operate, although only for pain management and if the TCM practitioner deems it essential.

TCM halls with a registered TCM practitioner were also allowed to open and sell their retail and herbal dispensary products. Other therapies, such as tui-na, cupping, moxibustion, and guasha are still not permitted under the circuit breaker rules.

Residents staying in condominiums and strata-title residential buildings can exercise within the common areas of these buildings. The management of these establishments must ensure that safe distancing measures are followed.

Residents should note that the use of swimming pools and gyms in these buildings are still prohibited.

What activities can resume on May 12?

Food retail outlets, such as confectionery shops, packaged snacks, cakes, and desserts can begin operating on this date but only for takeaways and delivery services. Home-based food businesses can also operate but they, too, are restricted for takeaways and delivery services.

Other businesses that can resume are retail laundry services, barbers and hairdressers, and the selling of pet supplies.

What activities can resume on May 19?

On May 19, schools can start allowing students back in small groups for face-to-face lessons. The government will give priority to graduating cohorts that are about to take national exams namely; primary 6, secondary 4 and 5, junior college 2, and pre-university 3 cohorts.

These groups will also return to class on selected days of the week and the wearing of masks is compulsory on school and campus grounds.

What activities are still banned under the circuit breaker?

All dine-in services in food and beverage establishments are prohibited, and all public sports facilities will remain closed. Businesses that are allowed to open on May 5 onwards must ensure that employees do not socialize in group settings, such as canteens.

Individual businesses that want to be exempted from the circuit breaker measures must first obtain approval from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

About Us

ASEAN Briefing is produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm assists foreign investors throughout Asia and maintains offices throughout ASEAN, including in SingaporeHanoiHo Chi Minh City and Jakarta. Please contact us at or visit our website at