SINGAPORE — All arrivals who have recent travel history to countries within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) grouping, Japan, Switzerland or the United Kingdom – regardless of residency status in Singapore – will be subject to a compulsory 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN).
Besides Singapore, the countries that belong to ASEAN are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
This is the latest border restriction put in place by the Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) dealing with the coronavirus. Those serving the SHN cannot leave their residence during the period.
The new regulation will come into effect from 11.59pm on Monday (16 March), and will affect those who have travelled to the affected countries within the past 14 days. However, travellers from these countries who transit in Singapore and do not leave the transit area are exempt.
At a media doorstop on Sunday, MTF co-chair and Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong clarified that this measure does not apply to those entering via land and sea crossings with Malaysia.
“We do have to put in place some special considerations for Malaysia, because of the close proximity, and the high inter-dependency between our two countries,” he said, noting that some 300,000 people cross the land checkpoints between the countries every day.
Separate arrangements on the matter are being made through the joint bilateral working group, Wong said.
Travellers serving an SHN will also have to provide proof of where they will be serving it. Examples include a hotel booking covering the entire period of stay or a place of residence they or their family members own.
Travellers entering Singapore may also be asked to take the swab test for COVID-19, even if they are asymptomatic.
Wong said the country is enhancing its border restrictions in light of a rising number of imported cases. As of noon on Saturday, he said, more than three quarters of new cases in the past three days were imported ones. Of these, close to 90 per cent were Singapore Residents and Long Term Pass Holders who were returning from overseas.
Wong said that the government has also seen a number of imported cases entering Singapore for the purpose of seeking medical care. Some of these individuals were already symptomatic when they arrived.
“We understand why they would like to do so and would certainly like to help them, but if there is a sudden surge we don’t have the capacity to do so... The capacity of our healthcare system must be prioritised for Singaporeans,” said Wong.
He noted that recent cases of this sort have “largely” been from Indonesia.
“But beyond Indonesia, you could have travellers from anywhere in the region, too. And that’s why we decided, across the whole of ASEAN we do need not only border controls, with this 14-day stay-at-home requirement... but also this additional requirement for the health information,” said Wong.
With the new regulations, Wong said Singapore would be adding a “second tier” to its existing travel restrictions, which will allow for travellers from countries the authorities deem to be “at risk but do not think it is necessary to disallow visitors from coming”.
“With a more tiered, risk-based framework, that will allow us more flexibility to manage the flows of people coming through our borders and we can adjust according to the risk situation,” said Wong.
In addition, all short-term visitors who are nationals of any ASEAN country will also have to submit information about their health to the Singapore overseas representation in the country they reside in, before they travel to Singapore.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) will have to approve their plans and this approval will be verified at the checkpoints by officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).
“How long will the process take? How many people will apply? I really don’t know. We are putting in a new requirement and I’m sure travellers will adjust to (it),” said Wong. He noted without elaborating that there would be penalties for those found to have made false declarations.
On Friday, authorities had announced that with effect from 11.59pm on Sunday, visitors who have been to Italy, France, Spain, and Germany within the past 14 days will not be allowed into Singapore.
This means that visitors with recent travel history to a total of seven countries, including China, South Korea and Iran, will be banned from entering Singapore.
Similarly, Singaporeans, permanent residents and long-term pass holders with recent travel history to Italy, France, Spain and Germany will be issued with a 14-day SHN.
Singapore residents and long-term pass holders who have been to parts of China outside of Hubei province, Iran and South Korea will continue to be issued with the notice upon their return.
Updated travel advisory
The health ministry has also updated its travel advisory – it now recommends that Singaporeans defer all non-essential travel abroad.
This advisory will apply for 30 days and will be reviewed after.
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