PM Lee Said in an Interview About How the Decision of Circuit Breaker Was Made


With it feeling like the 25th month of 2020, it might feel like the Circuit Breaker was a long, long time ago.

Over a year since the nation’s biggest lockdown, and where COVID-19 seems like the new norm, it might be hard to remember every single detail since the start of the pandemic.

From the mandatory mask-wearing implemented in April 2020 to the Circuit Breaker that ran from April to June 2020, In This Together: Singapore’s COVID-19 Story, published by Straits Times Press, covers many of the essential details regarding the COVID-19 pandemic that might have blurred out in our memory over the months.

The publication also includes an interview with PM Lee Hsien Loong about how the decision of circuit breaker was made and the various ways in which different parties worked together to ensure the utmost wellbeing of our country.

How the Circuit Breaker Was Decided

“It was a very big decision. So I told the ministers: We sleep on this, we meet again tomorrow… If I’m going to act, I would rather overreact than underreact,” PM Lee explained.

With the number of community cases rising rapidly, the Cabinet ultimately decided to hold a lockdown, ensuring that everyone was kept safe.

How We Have Evolved

Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a large change in regulations, with one of them being the mask-wearing mandate.

While most of us can’t imagine ourselves going out without wearing masks now, there was a time at the beginning of the pandemic when masks weren’t mandatory. In fact, they were discouraged unless you were feeling unwell.

“In retrospect, I think we would have said right from the beginning, please don’t scramble for the surgical masks, save those for the healthcare workers, but the rest of you, let’s make our own masks,” PM Lee recalled. “We should have changed our position earlier and encouraged people to use reusable masks, improvise.”

Although there was definitely trial-and-error in terms of the regulations set out by the government, I’m sure that it’s made us understand the nuances when dealing with a pandemic a lot more, and that it’s made us more well-equipped to cope with the ever-evolving situation ahead.

PM Lee’s Tips to Coping With the Pandemic

In his interview, PM Lee also recognised the struggles that arose from being in a pandemic, especially on an individual level.

He shared some of his tips when dealing with the stress and unfamiliarity that the pandemic and safe management measures might bring about. With meditation and daily exercise, along with taking photographs during his weekend walks, PM Lee explained that it helped him “keep the mind switched to a different wavelength”.

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In all, though we definitely have a long road ahead of us, we have definitely become better trained to deal with the repercussions that the pandemic has brought about. Throughout the months, it’s also evident that we’ve gotten more chances to understand how decisions are made, giving us a better, more well-rounded picture of our abstract, everchanging society today.

Here’s to hoping that December 2022 won’t feel like the 36th month of 2020.

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Featured Image: Natasya R /