“Normal” life post-circuit breaker is a challenge for 2 in 3

A new Manulife Singapore survey about the impact of COVID-19 and circuit breaker measures on the lives of people living in Singapore has revealed that 60% of respondents are not confident to be part of crowds anymore, and 65% are not confident to go outside as much as they used to. Key reasons for this include the fear of contracting COVID-19 and wanting to avoid long queues and crowds.

The Manulife survey polled over 1,000 respondents in Singapore to understand their attitudes and sentiment towards the lifting of circuit breaker restrictions, and what the ‘new normal’ might look like.

The Manulife survey*, commissioned by Manulife Singapore, was conducted online by 2CV in end June 2020 among 1,000 respondents based in Singapore between the ages of 21-64. ‘Pre-circuit breaker’ is defined as before 7 April 2020, and ‘post-circuit breaker’ is defined as from 19 June 2020. Percentages may not total to 100 due to rounding.


Before the impact of COVID-19, most Singaporeans enjoyed a fast-paced on-the-go lifestyle, constantly being out and about for work and play.

  • Before the circuit breaker, 83% regularly dined out with friends or family
  • 83% regularly visit shopping malls
  • 61% would go for regular outdoor hikes
  • 57% would visit the houses of friends and family for a meal
  • 47% catch a movie at the cinema at least once a month


While the majority of respondents were confident to resume essential activities such as grocery shopping or dining at home with friends and family, many are wary of restarting outdoor entertainment, lifestyle and fitness activities in the new normal:

  • 67% indicated that they missed eating out during circuit breaker. Today, only 53% have the confidence to eat out.
  • During the circuit breaker, 93% of gym goers were aching to get back in the studio. Today, only 48% have the confidence to return.
  • While 95% of respondents missed being able to attend live events, only 33% have the confidence to attend one.
  • 56% missed the experience of watching a movie at the cinema. However, only 31% have the confidence to do so now.

Outside of worries around contracting COVID-19 (67%) and the fear of long queues and large crowds (58%), convenience related factors, such as not wanting to wear a mask for a long time (47%) and the hassle of having to sign in and out everywhere (45%) are also barriers to resuming normal activity.

However, despite the health risks of COVID-19, Singaporeans are more concerned about the economy (68%) and job security (59%), over the physical health of them or their loved ones (57%). 53% of respondents also indicated that they are worried about their personal and family finances. In additional to personal and financial health, 40% are also concerned about emotional and psychological wellbeing.

“We’ve all had to make adjustments to our daily lives during this period. Now, even as we move towards resuming our pre-circuit breaker routines, we recognise that things will not be the same as before. At Manulife Singapore, it is our role as customers’ trusted life insurance partner to help them live confidently as they ease into the new normal,” said Dr Khoo Kah Siang, Chief Executive Officer, Manulife Singapore.


COVID-19 has caused changes in many ways to our world including the fast tracking of a digital life. Unsurprisingly, the number one thing people in Singapore were doing the most of during circuit breaker was taking work meetings via video calls (66%).

Other activities include honing their MasterChef skills baking cookies and cakes (35%) and upskilling themselves by taking an online course (34%). 29% of respondents ordered groceries online for the first time and 27% organized virtual happy hour with family and friends.

And while it probably seemed like everyone on Instagram was doing it, only 15% of Singaporeans took part in the #DalgonaCoffeeChallenge during the circuit breaker.


To encourage Singaporeans to resume life in the new normal, Manulife Singapore will be launching a nationwide sneaker hunt in end August with the message “Life Goes On, Let’s Move Responsibly”.

“We wanted to find a way to encourage Singaporeans to go out, have fun, in a responsible way,” said Darren Thompson, Chief Customer Officer and Chief Product Officer, Manulife Singapore. “Through this campaign, we hope to help Singaporeans take small steps in re-introducing a sense of normality to their daily lives in a safe way, and find joy while doing so.”

The sneaker hunt will run for five weeks, both online and offline, with participants standing a chance to win limited-edition sneakers each week. More details about the nationwide sneaker hunt will be released on Manulife Singapore’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

On August 3rd, Manulife Singapore announced the launch of Manulife Advisory Group, a remodel of its proprietary agency channel, designed to offer a wider range of offerings to customers.

Operating under an open architecture system, Manulife Advisory Group will enable larger insurance penetration and accelerate the rate of financial inclusion in Singapore. Customers will have a wide range of insurance solutions and investment products to fulfil their protection needs and wealth creation ambitions, as Manulife Singapore partners with multiple insurers and investment platforms. Products will include Manulife’s signature products like LifeReady Plus and InvestReady Wealth, alongside a series of new products in the pipeline.

To prepare advisors for holistic customer engagement in the new normal, Manulife Singapore will dedicate resources for regular and rigorous training, to empower agents to adeptly service customers and showcase corporate values in outreach efforts. All representatives under Manulife Advisory Group are accredited under the Institute of Banking and Finance Singapore’s Standards Training Scheme (IBF-STS) as part of Manulife Singapore’s in-house agency onboarding program since the start of 2020, to further ensure quality customer advice and service across the board.

The streamlining of its multi-channel distribution network is a response to the evolving market, with a growing demand for customised solutions across varying needs amongst an increasingly sophisticated customer base.

Jenny Teo, Chief Financial Advisory Officer of Manulife Singapore, said, “Our goal at Manulife Singapore is to consistently improve our offerings to continue exceeding the high expectations our customers have set for us. This is both in terms of the solutions that we offer and the way in which we deliver them. We see this transformative undertaking as a timely way to ensure we continue to serve customers in the best way that we can, not just through an extensive range of bespoke solutions, but also with highly-trained advisors whose priority will be to safeguard their ever-evolving needs and wants through the seasons.”

Central to effective customer engagement in the current season will be digital tools, curated to ensure steadfast contact amid ongoing remote working environments. At the height of the pandemic, Manulife Singapore was one of the firsts in the market to launch a secure non-face-to-face advisory sales process, allowing customers to speak to advisors and sign-off on plans all from the comfort of the homes. This process will continue to take precedence with all advisors under Manulife Advisory Group.

Written by Ravi Chandran

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