SINGAPORE: Air crew of Singapore-based airlines are exempted from serving stay-home notice as they are subject to stringent COVID-19 preventive measures, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung in a written parliamentary reply on Monday (Jan 4).
These include wearing face masks and face shields on board, refraining from interacting with passengers and taking a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test upon arrival from high-risk countries and regions.
Mr Ong was responding to a question from Workers’ Party Member of Parliament (MP) Jamus Lim, who asked why a stay-home notice is required for flight crews of non-Singapore airlines but not for Singapore-based airlines.
“This treatment is consistent with those of frontline workers like doctors and nurses, who do not have to serve stay-at-home notices after performing their duties in view of the preventive measures taken to protect them while they are on duty,” Mr Ong said.
“If foreign-based airlines can comply with these preventive measures, their air crew will be subject to the same rules. If not, they will have to serve SHNs (stay-home notice) for the duration of their stay in Singapore, regardless of which countries they flew in from.”
In addition to COVID-19 testing requirements and precautions on board, crew members from Singapore-based airlines have to take dedicated transport to hotels, wear location trackers and must remain in their hotel room until their departure flight when they have to stay at an overseas destination.
Measures have also been enhanced after recent cases of COVID-19 involving Singapore Airlines crew, Mr Ong noted
Airline crew who have layovers in higher-risk countries are tested more frequently after they return to Singapore and are required to isolate for a few days.
“We are also exploring including air crew as a priority group for vaccinations,” he added.
The two recent COVID-19 cases involving Singapore Airlines crew involve a steward and a pilot who is suspected to have contracted the new strain of the virus.
READ: Singapore Airlines steward who travelled to US classified as locally transmitted COVID-19 case
The pilot had travelled to the UK from Dec 19 to 22 and was tested on Dec 23 as part of rostered regular testing for air crew members who travel frequently.
The test came back negative, but after developing a fever on Dec 26, he took another test the next day was confirmed to have COVID-19 on Dec 29.
The steward, who was asymptomatic, had worked on a flight to New York and was confirmed positive on Dec 27 after two inconclusive test results.