SINGAPORE (June 3): Singapore is set to gradually reopen its borders, starting with allowing essential business and official trips between the republic and six Chinese provinces.

The move follows a May 29 announcement on the countries’ agreement to a “fast lane” arrangement.

See: Singapore and China to facilitate essential travel between both countries from early June

Come June 8, this arrangement will commence between Singapore and the Chinese provinces of Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang, as well as Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing – three cities with provincial status within China’s elaborate hierarchy.

More provinces and municipalities will be added to the list over time, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

Under this arrangement, travellers would have to undergo two swab tests – the first being 48 hours prior to their departure, and the second upon arrival. While they will not be put on a stay home notice or quarantine order, these individuals must remain isolated while awaiting the results of their Covid-19 tests.

Should they test positive, these individuals would have to cover their own cost of medical treatment.

During their travel, visitors will not be allowed to deviate from their itinerary which would have been approved prior to their flight.

Singapore residents who wish to make essential travel to China via the fast lane must receive sponsorship from either a company or government agency in China. The Chinese counterparts will have to file an application with their provincial or municipal authorities.

Upon approval, they can apply for a visa from the Chinese Embassy in Singapore and then submit their health declaration.

Likewise, Chinese residents wanting to come here must receive sponsorship from either a company or Singapore government agency. These organisations will then apply for a SafeTravel Pass.

China marks the first country Singapore is easing its travel restrictions on. It had from February – during the initial stages of the coronavirus outbreak – begun imposing restrictions on travellers who had been to certain parts of China. 

As the spread exacerbated into a global pandemic, the city state extended its restrictions and eventually placed a complete ban on visitors.

As it commences ‘phase one’ of the easing of its circuit breaker measures, Singapore is looking to gradually ease these restrictions. Its export-oriented economy makes this reopening more urgent.

“We have an intricate link to the global economy. Singapore’s survival depends on us remaining connected to the world, as a hub for investment, trade and talent,” said Gabriel Lim, Permanent Secretary of Trade and Industry at a media briefing on Wednesday.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who chairs the Covid-19 multi-ministry taskforce had previously said the country is in talks with establishing “travel bubbles” with other nations where the spread of Covid-19 is under control.

MFA on Wednesday noted it is in talks with New Zealand on the gradual reopening of borders. Other regions Singapore is corresponding with include South Korea and Malaysia – as highlighted previously by Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing.

“We have always maintained openness for trade to continue. Goods continue to flow from Singapore and through Singapore, as a trans-shipment hub. Having retained and preserved our supply chain, the next step to take would be to restore some of our people flows between countries,” noted MTI's Lim.