Singapore’s Museums and Galleries Will Close for a Month as Its Prime Minister Abandons Crowd-Control Measures for a Full Lockdown

The city-state had previously been using more incremental measures to protect public health.

National Gallery Singapore. Photo courtesy of National Gallery Singapore.

Museums and galleries across Singapore will close this week as the country aims to protect against a possible new wave of COVID-19 infections.

The National Gallery of Singapore, the Nantang Technological University Centre for Contemporary Art, and numerous commercial galleries will shut their doors for at least four weeks starting tomorrow. The closures were mandated by prime minister Lee Hsien Loong, who announced Friday that all non-essential businesses in the island city state would be halted. 

“We have decided that instead of tightening incrementally over the next few weeks, we should make a decisive move now, to pre-empt escalating infections,” Lee said in his announcement, noting that the number of new cases has increased dramatically in recent weeks. 

To date, Singapore has just over 1,300 confirmed cases and six deaths. The country has been praised for its handling of the pandemic as it turned to a system of preventative measures and testing practices developed in the wake of the Sars outbreak in 2002-03. 

Roof terrace.Photo courtesy National Gallery Singapore.

Roof terrace. Photo courtesy National Gallery Singapore.

The city-state has banned travelers from mainland China since late January, and all peoples entering the country have had their temperatures taken. Entertainment venues were shut down on March 24, and museums implemented crowd control measures such as limiting visitor numbers and requiring all entrants to register. 

Singapore’s Asian Civilisations Museum previously closed for two days after March 19, when one of its employees tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from a trip to the United States, according to ArtAsiaPacific.

But as a second wave of coronavirus cases coursed throughout southeast Asia, Singapore had to adopt the across-the-board closures already implemented by China, South Korea, and other countries. After starting to reopen its own museums, galleries, and other businesses, the government of Hong Kong reintroduced social distancing measures in late March as the number of new cases rose dramatically in a short period of time.  

Following Prime Minister’s Lee’s order, the National Gallery of Singapore launched #GalleryAnywhere, a new online programming initiative across its website and social media channels. The institution will grant public access to its archive of artist interviews, recordings of performances and panels, and scholarly articles. 

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