Singapore will allow general travel to and from New Zealand and Brunei Darussalam, as the city-state eases border control measures to take into account countries where the virus situation is under control.
Travellers from the two nations will undergo a Covid-19 test upon arrival in Singapore instead of a quarantine or stay-home notice, the Ministry of Health said in a statement on Friday. These changes will take effect from Sept. 1, it said. Those going to the two countries are still subject to requirements imposed by authorities there, according to the statement.
Here are further details of the easing of border restrictions:
- For other low-risk places, Singapore will shorten the stay-home notice duration from the current 14 days to seven days, and allow travelers to serve this at their place of residence. These places are Australia (excluding Victoria state), Macau, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Malaysia. The Covid-19 test will continue to be administered before the end of the 7-day notice
- All other incoming travelers will continue to serve their 14-day stay-home notice at dedicated facilities, and will be subject to a test before the end of the period
- The country will also allow travel for students pursuing their education overseas, and where distance-learning is not offered as an option
“Singapore’s border measures will evolve as the global situation changes,” the health ministry said.
This announcement comes after Ong Ye Kung, the newly appointed transport minister, said last week that Singapore could consider opening its borders to tourists in an effort to attract more traffic into its once bustling airport.
“We hope to work closely with the government so that Singapore’s aviation industry can restart safely while mitigating the possibility of Covid-19 transmission,” Conrad Clifford, the International Air Transport Association’s regional vice president for the Asia-Pacific region, said in a statement after new measures were announced on Friday. “And we urge other states in the region to look at ways to resume international travel safely, including through the implementation of travel bubbles.”
Singapore has been hard hit by the pandemic, given its tourism industry largely relies on international travelers to keep its shops and attractions humming. It welcomed just 3,800 visitors in the second quarter, the least on record, and its economy is heading for the worst contraction since independence.
The country this week announced additional support measures of $8 billion to cushion the blow from the pandemic, extending wage subsidies and aiming to shore up the hard-hit aviation and hospitality sectors.
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Malls, No Loud Music
Singapore has gradually restarted its economy since June and allowed limited social activities as the total number of new cases has fallen following partial lockdown measures implemented in April. Malls and restaurants have started filling up again as people go out to shop and dine.
Some popular malls or premises that face crowd management issues may have entry restrictions, while dining outlets will be allowed to play recorded music as soft background music only to prevent patrons from talking loudly and raising the risk of droplet spread, the health ministry said.
The city-state is negotiating with various companies over vaccine deals, Kenneth Mak, the health ministry’s director of medical services, said at the briefing. Authorities will need to prioritize the vaccine’s availability to more vulnerable groups and front-line workers when it’s ready, and hasn’t yet made a decision on whether it’ll be mandatory for all.
“We continue to be in discussion with various pharmaceutical companies to update ourselves about the progress of their trials for their vaccine candidates and to explore the possibility of procuring these vaccines for use in Singapore,” Mak said.
The Southeast Asian country has recorded more than 56,000 confirmed cases of infection, with more than 90% of the total coming from migrant laborers living in tightly-spaced dormitories. The daily infection count has, however, been on a downward trend following the government’s sweeping effort to test and clear that population of the virus.