Singapore looks to ramp up factory activities as virus curbs ease


FILE PHOTO: A view of an empty Merlion Park, as tourism braces for a steep decline following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) along Marina Bay in Singapore, March 26, 2020. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore will progressively ramp up its manufacturing activities, its minister of trade and industry said on Sunday, with the city-state looking to restart its economy as coronavirus curbs start to ease over the next few weeks.

Sectors that are intertwined with the global supply chain such as biopharmaceutical and petrochemicals as well precision manufacturing will be among priority sectors, Chan Chun Sing told reporters.

Only about 17% of Singapore’s labour force is currently working onsite to maintain essential services and support for global production chains and connectivity.

Chan said workplaces will have put in place prescribed measures to minimise the risk of infection before they can reopen. He added that those who are able to work from home will have to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.    

“So we will not be able to open some of the social entertainment outlets, but we will focus on our manufacturing capacities and production capabilities first,” he said.

The city-state is facing the deepest recession in its 55-year history, compounded by so-called “circuit breaker” restrictions, which are aimed at stemming the spread of the novel coronavirus and are due to last until June 1.

Singapore will start allowing some businesses to reopen from May 12, authorities said on Saturday.

Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore; editing by Jane Wardell

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