Singapore, much like the rest of the world, is reeling from the impact of COVID-19. It’s reeling despite being a model of best practice a country can take during the worst healthcare crisis in living memory. During these challenging times there’s uncertainty around the global crisis, the pressure to be productive, and the challenge to maintain normality in these unprecedented times. It can get to even the best of us. There are however a few key positives which are heartening to see in Singapore, which give us all hope and, for a moment, make me feel that everything is normal.
The famous proverb “necessity is the mother of invention” seems appropriate during these turbulent times, where there have been several examples of Singaporeans innovating in big and small ways. One of the biggest and best examples being the government-created trace together app. This app uses your smartphone’s Bluetooth and tracks people that you have been in close contact with, simplifying and shortening the contact tracing process. Singapore is also seeing many local businesses shifting to e-commerce and boosting their online services to stay open and connected to their customers. One such example is King and Pawn, a board game café and bar who changed their business model from in-café to delivery. They are now offering food and drinks bundles with board game rental, bringing the board game café experience to your home.
Singaporeans have banded together to fight the pandemic. Apart from being extremely compliant with the government advice, Singaporeans have been actively supporting initiatives in their local communities. Singaporeans have been volunteering at scale – from assisting in mask and hand sanitizer distribution, to community outreach, and even being a SG Clean Ambassador (monitoring safe social distancing). The government has even set up a special website SG united enabling locals to support a range local charities in their COVID-19 efforts.
Bringing communities together has never been so important, with other apps such as GoodHood.SG launching to help connect members of the local community together digitally to share their experiences and support each other wherever they can. In his address to the nation on the 2nd of April, Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong made it a point to speak in 3 languages (English, Malay and Mandarin), underlining the importance of inclusiveness in such a diverse country.
Consumers, brands and the government are all coming together to support one another. The government is spending billions of dollars to support ailing citizens and industries adversely affected by the virus. This package includes wage subsidies, cash payouts and skill development initiatives. Prominent brands are also doing their bit – local businesses such as Megacool, ANB, and U-gate design have distributed numerous masks to both the children and the elderly. Leading cab operator ComfortDelGro have recently announced an additional relief package of $99 million to ensure that their cabbies are well supported during the crisis. There have also been many consumer-led initiatives to support local businesses in these tough times, such as Chope and Save who ask you to buy gift cards for your favorite restaurants to help with their cashflow and for consumers to use at a later date.
Whilst the situation is always changing, a strong support system will be vital for the country to get back on its feet. The grit and determination shown by Singaporeans from all walks of life gives hope and strength in these challenging times. Let us hope that these positive experiences will be the lasting memory of Covid-19 in Singapore.