Singapore Pledges $605 Million in Further Virus Help Amid Curbs

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Singapore announced S$800 million ($605 million) in additional support for businesses and individuals affected by restrictions imposed this month as it confronts a recent uptick in Covid-19 cases.

The measures include wage subsidies and rental relief for sectors particularly affected such as food and beverage as well as retail, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement on Friday. This won’t require an additional draw on past reserves at this point as they will be funded through a reallocation from development expenditure, according to the statement.

A resurgence in infections, including some from a more contagious variant of the virus first identified in India, prompted authorities to reimpose for a month some lockdown-like conditions that had been put in place last year. The measures, which will last until June 13, include a ban on dining-in, a return to work-from-home and limiting outdoor group sizes to a maximum of just two.

Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said the government doesn’t think there is a need “for further tightening in our overall posture” for now as restrictions are helping to curb the virus spread, the Straits Times reported, citing him speaking at a briefing. Wong added authorities would provide a fuller update at a press conference on Monday.

The local economy, which depends heavily on travel and services, has struggled to rebound from the pandemic’s blow to global demand. Gross domestic product grew 1.3% in the first quarter compared to a year ago and is expected to expand 4%-6% for the full year, following last year’s 5.4% contraction, which was its worst performance since independence more than a half-century ago.

The restrictions have also meant a tightening of borders. Prestigious events were canceled, such as the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, set for next month, and the World Economic Forum in August.

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