22 May 2020

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), categorised by the World Health Organization as a pandemic on 11 March 2020, has now spread to 215 countries, areas and territories across the world. The pandemic has resulted in an unparalleled impact on international trade and commerce, and the global economy has since been plunged into a state of deep-freeze.

This article considers the measures implemented to combat the spread of COVID-19, what this means for existing contractual obligations of affected parties across key sectors and recent legislation introduced in Singapore aimed at navigating those affected through these uncertain times.

At present, there are over 3.9 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world. To prevent any further spread of the virus as the world continues racing towards a vaccine, governments have put in place a series of draconian public health measures. Whilst such measures are undoubtedly essential in the face of the developing pandemic, they have resulted in a severe disruption of the global economy currently being felt across key sectors on both supply and demand sides.

On 7 April 2020, Singapore’s government introduced a series of “circuit-breaker” safe distancing measures focused on the closure of non-essential services, workplaces, schools and most other venues. This added to its already extensive arsenal of measures comprising of travel restrictions, quarantine/stay-home orders, event suspensions and social distancing regulations. Midway through the circuit-breaker, the government announced the further tightening of measures and its extension until 1 June 2020 as a response to the rapid spread of COVID-19 within foreign worker clusters and increasing figures of unlinked cases within the community.

With no clear signs of the virus slowing down in Singapore, significant easing of public health measures is unlikely at least in this quarter. Affected parties must now decide between riding out the crisis and cutting losses, and this has resulted in a high level of uncertainty built up across the following key sectors.

To continue reading this article, please visit The Law Gazette, the official publication of the Law Society of Singapore.