The year 2020 will forever be remembered as the year which entirely changed the way humans commute, interact and socialize with one another on a global scale. As the world celebrated moving into a new decade with renewed optimism and vigor, everyone was caught off guard by the events unfolding in Wuhan, China. The first human cases of the new novel coronavirus strain, COVID-19, were reported as China tried to contain the outbreak. By 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) had to declare the COVID-19 a pandemic as more than 118,000 confirmed patients were infected by the disease with more than 4,200 deaths from over 100 countries at the time. More than a year on, the COVID-19 pandemic still cast a long shadow over us.
The first COVID-19 infections in Singapore were reported in late January 2020. Initially, most of the confirmed cases were visitors from Wuhan. But the imported cases soon led to local transmissions, and many infection clusters were formed at various locations involving religious activities, business conferences and Chinese New Year gatherings. As the numbers continue to rise, the Singapore government had to impose the Circuit Breaker measures on its population to contain the spread of the disease.
During the initial Circuit Breaker period, strict preventive measures were implemented to limit social interaction and contain the pandemic. All non-essential businesses, schools, childcare centers and enrichment centers were closed, while classes had to transition to pure online learning. Dine-in at food establishments were banned, and only take-aways, food deliveries and drive throughs were allowed. Wearing of masks covering the nose and mouth when outside of home were made compulsory, with fines and prosecutions enforced on offenders refusing to comply.
Social, business and recreational outings were totally not allowed during the Circuit Breaker. With the advancement of communications technology and the Internet, the population relies on the latest video and web conferencing programs such as Zoom, WhatsApp, Teams, Meet and many others to stay in touch. Business meetings were conducted virtually. Social gatherings were done over multi-participant video chat sessions. Classes were conducted over Zoom. While physical meet ups were impossible, technology made us feel less isolated during the lockdown.
Some of these restrictions were gradually lifted as the number of active COVID-19 cases and community spread of the virus decreased to a manageable level. The planned reopening of non-essential services, malls, tourist attractions and entertainment venues were conducted in 3 phases. As of April 2021, Singapore is still in phase 3 of its post-circuit breaker reopening. Up to 8 people are allowed to congregate for social gatherings. Tourist attractions can accommodate up to 65% of their maximum capacity, while live performances are allowed to have up to 250 audience in zoned seating areas.
Kitchen Showdown is well equipped to host both live and virtual corporate cooking classes during this post Circuit Breaker period. Live cooking classes are held at our cooking studio for corporations looking to have fun in small groups of not more than 8 participants each time. Basic precautions such as scanning in and out via the TraceTogether app, sanitizing of hands upon arrival at our venue, and compulsory wearing of surgical masks at all times throughout the cooking activities are taken to ensure our participants’ safety. With smaller number of participants, our events are a lot more intimate and personalized.
Where else our virtual cooking classes allow for far greater flexibility in terms of number of participants and locations, while preventive measures are minimal as participants will be joining us from the comforts of their homes. The fun factor will still be retained, as participants compete virtually to outdo each other in their respective kitchens in whipping out sumptuous delicacies with the guidance of an experienced chef via Zoom.
With the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccinations in Singapore beginning in 2021, everyone is optimistic that the restrictions imposed will continue to be further relaxed over time. But until at least 80% of the country’s population is vaccinated, strict preventive measures involving congregation of large number of people will still be imposed. Humans will be more hygiene conscious and wary of being in crowded places within the next few years at least.