The first time I heard the term was on a Channel News Asia report - a circuit breaker was enacted to curb panic selling on the NYSE. Later, when Singapore announced that we were enacting a circuit breaker, I had a rough idea of what was to come - measures to curb panic.
COVID-19 feels different from SARS. I think it has more to do of how we experience it through different mediums, mainly through social media feeds and WhatsApp. These mediums turn everyone into their own expert, specifically "I know someone who has inside information" expert. Marvin Gaye becomes somewhat of a prophet - I heard it through the grapevine, I'm just about to lose my mind. Whether that piece of information is right or wrong, it's at your discretion.
Disengagement has been moderately effective against hearsay. Muting WhatsApp group chats and turning off notifications for social media feeds has helped me to control when I want to consume them, like keeping a biscuit tin out of reach. Although, when you reach for them, it's almost like COVID-19 paranoia still creeps in. Especially on YouTube, where watching one COVID-19 explainer video spurs an algorithm to recommend you ten more explainers on your video feed. So much for making biscuit tins hard to open.
A circuit breaker stops a faulty appliance from burning the house down. Said appliance would draw more current than needed, and trip the circuit breaker. I think this is what being in a circuit breaker should be about - to switch off in order to prevent an overload. I hope we could return to this definition.