* Social gatherings limited to 2 people
* Dining-in at restaurants halted
* Straits Times index falls most in 11 months
* Singapore domestic cases low in recent months
SINGAPORE, May 14 (Reuters) - Singapore announced on Friday
its strictest curbs on gatherings and public activities since a
coronavirus lockdown last year, amid a rise in locally acquired
infections and with new clusters forming in recent weeks.
The measures, which will be in force from Sunday to
mid-June, include limiting social gatherings to two people, a
halt on dining in at restaurants and for employers to make
working from home a default arrangement for staff.
Malls and cinemas will be allowed to operate but at reduced
Singapore's Straits Times index closed down 2.2% on
Friday, its sharpest daily fall in 11 months, with drops led by
firms exposed to retail and travel. Singapore Airlines
fell 5.7%, the sharpest drop in a year.
The Singapore dollar fell slightly.
The Asian trade and financial hub of 5.7 million people had
until recently been reporting almost zero or single-digit daily
infections locally for months.
On Friday, it confirmed 24 locally transmitted infections
for the second consecutive day, the highest daily number since
September, driven partly by a cluster at its international
"This is clearly a setback in our fight against COVID-19, "
said Lawrence Wong, co-chair of Singapore's coronavirus
Despite reassurances from authorities of adequate supplies,
long queues were seen forming up at some supermarkets on Friday
following the announcement, with shoppers filling trolleys with
food items and necessities. Staff were busy restocking shelves.
Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said the outbreak would "very
likely" delay a planned travel bubble with Hong Kong.
Singapore posted its worst recession last year due to
pandemic and is now charting an uneven recovery.
The return of restrictions come as the city-state was
gearing up to reopen to visitors and businesses and host
international events, including next month's annual defence and
security meeting, the Shangri-La Dialogue, and the World
Economic Forum's summit in August.
"Quick reopening hopes have been dashed, especially for the
travel and leisure sectors," said Bank of Singapore analyst Moh
Siong Sim. "Manufacturing should hold up as has been the case
over the past year."
(Reporting by Chen Lin and Tom Westbrook; Editing by Ed Davies,
Martin Petty and Raissa Kasolowsky)