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SINGAPORE — From 8 September, visitors from Brunei and New Zealand will be allowed to enter Singapore without serving a stay-home notice (SHN) if they have remained in these countries in the past 14 days before arrival, said Education Minister Lawrence Wong on Friday (21 August).
Instead, they will undergo a COVID-19 test upon arrival at the airport and only be allowed to go about their activities in Singapore after receiving a negative test result, said Wong at a virtual multi-ministry task force press conference.
“We know that some places have been able to control the infection effectively, and the risk of importation is low. Our assessment is that there is no need for a stay-home notice requirement for travellers from these low-risk places and the COVID-19 test would be sufficient,” the taskforce co-chair added.
Prior to travelling to Singapore, visitors from Brunei and New Zealand will need to apply for an Air Travel Pass (ATP) between 7 and 30 days before their intended date of entry into Singapore. They will be responsible for their medical bills should they need medical treatment for COVID-19 while in Singapore.
The application for the ATP will start from 1 September for travel from 8 September. More details will be provided by the Ministry of Transport next week.
Returning Singapore citizens, permanent residents, and long-term pass holders will similarly not have to serve SHN and will undergo a COVID-19 test upon arrival from Brunei and New Zealand. They do not need to apply for an ATP and can return from 1 September.
Wong said that while there are no current reciprocal arrangements for visitors from Singapore planning to travel to Brunei and New Zealand, authorities here are holding ongoing discussions with both countries on the issue.
“When we are ready with the reciprocal green lane arrangements with these two countries we will announce the details,” he added.
Currently, all foreign visitors are not allowed to enter Brunei and New Zealand.
Visitors from low-risk places to serve shorter SHN
There are other low-risk countries or regions where an SHN may not be necessary but authorities here will continue to implement it out of “an abundance of caution”, noted Wong.
Places deemed low-risk are Australia – excluding Victoria State – Macao, mainland China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Malaysia.
Incoming travellers from these places need only serve a seven-day SHN, down from 14, and they will be allowed to serve it at their place of residence.
All other incoming travellers will continue to serve their 14-day notice at dedicated SHN facilities, said Wong.
All travellers, regardless of the duration of the SHN, will be subjected to a COVID-19 test before the end of the notice.
“The countries in the different categories will continue to be updated over time. So this is not cast in stone. We continue to assess the situation, and we will update the list of countries over time,” said Wong.
Separately, students who are studying overseas will also be allowed to travel as many foreign educational institutions are resuming their terms.
This means students and other travellers who are going to Brunei and New Zealand in compliance with the updated travel advisory will be eligible for government subsidies and insurance coverage for treatment if they end up being infected with COVID-19 when they return.
All border changes will take effect from 12am on 1 September for all travellers entering or departing Singapore.
Professor Leo Yee Sin, National Centre for Infectious Diseases executive director, noted that a balanced and risk-managed approach is needed for Singapore to progressively regain connectivity with other parts of the world.
“Risk assessment takes into consideration the local incidence rate in countries and their ability to contain further transmission. This will start with countries that have a lower or comparable incidence rate to our local situation,” said Prof Leo.
“The NCID studies and analyses available information with the Ministry of Health (MOH) to calibrate action plans.”
The Singapore Airlines Group – which owns SIA, SilkAir, and Scoot – said it welcomed the government’s decision to further ease border restrictions.
“The recovery of air travel and airfreight is a necessary catalyst for the recovery of global trade and economies severely impacted by COVID-19,” it said. “Today’s announcement is an important step towards the gradual rebuilding of the Singapore air hub.”
The MOH on Friday reiterated its advice for Singapore residents to defer all non-essential travel overseas. Essential travel for business, official, and work purposes will continue to be permitted under the green/fast lane arrangements and the periodic commuting arrangement.
All travellers will remain subject to the prevailing border measures upon entry, including payment for their stay at dedicated SHN facilities and tests, where applicable.
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