SINGAPORE: Countries in the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) will need a common set of health declarations and checks before travel in the region can resume, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said on Sunday (May 3).
Mr Chan said he recently met his ASEAN counterparts and agreed that the wider revival of the tourism sector will require collaboration on a number of issues.
"First, we will need to see how we can market ASEAN as an integrated package," he told reporters in a video call.
"But in order for us to do so, we also need to make sure that we have the same, common cross-border health declarations and checks in order for us to resume cross-border travel."
READ: COVID-19: Priority testing for customer-facing staff as some sectors prepare to resume operations
A number of ASEAN countries including Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand have barred most foreigners from entering to minimise the risk of imported COVID-19 cases.
"Given that various ASEAN countries are at different stages of the curve, we need to make sure we put in place some of these measures so that when cases in various ASEAN countries subside, then we can progressively resume travel," Mr Chan said.
While ASEAN members agreed that the resumption of domestic tourism will be the first phase in the revival of the wider tourism sector, Mr Chan said the focus for Singapore now is to resume essential travel first.
"That will give us the confidence to work the processes for the cross-border travel which will take a longer time to resume," he said.
READ: Singapore to start gradual easing of circuit breaker measures as COVID-19 community cases decline
Mr Chan said he has discussed this issue of essential business travel with his counterparts from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and South Korea.
These countries are "preparing the groundwork" to coordinate on the "standards of health checks for mutual assurance", he said.
"It will require us to have a system to track and trace in case there is an infected person," he added.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect an MTI correction that it was South Korea, not the UK, that the minister discussed the issue of essential business travel with.