SINGAPORE: From Sep 1, some travellers coming to Singapore from Brunei and New Zealand will not be required to serve a stay-home notice but will take a COVID-19 test upon arrival instead, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Friday (Aug 21).
At the same time, Singapore will update its travel advisory for people who want to visit these countries. Under the current advisory, residents are advised to defer all travel abroad, except for essential business and official travel under green-lane and fast-lane arrangements.
The advisory will be updated to allow general travel to Brunei and New Zealand, said MOH on Friday. People visiting these two countries are advised to check the entry requirements imposed by the respective governments, as well as take the necessary precautions.
Co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force Lawrence Wong said during a press conference on Friday that the arrangements with Brunei and New Zealand are not reciprocal, but discussions with both countries are ongoing.
“When we are ready with the reciprocal green lane arrangements with these two countries, we will announce the details,” he said.
"Specific to these two countries, we are making a move based on the evidence, based on our assessment of risk," he added.
READ: Households with more than 5 people may book more than 1 table in F&B outlets; more exercise classes in open spaces
The travel advisory will also be updated to allow students pursuing academic qualifications overseas to travel for studies, if distance-learning is not offered as an option.
“When overseas, travellers should take all necessary precautions, observe good personal hygiene, monitor local developments, and heed the advice of local authorities,” MOH said.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong urged those who are intending to travel to plan ahead.
"Don't just hop on the plane and go. Please check what are the requirements of the destination countries, make sure that you comply with the requirements before you fly over.
"At the same time when you're there, continue to exercise vigilance, continue to exercise safe distancing, and also observe the safe distancing rules in those countries, so that you protect yourself and protect others," he added.
Those who comply with the travel advisories will be eligible for Government subsidies and MediShield Life and Integrated Shield Plan coverage for their COVID-19 treatment should they have onset of symptoms within 14 days of their return to Singapore and require hospital admission for suspected infection, said MOH.
Singaporeans and residents of Singapore are advised to defer all other forms of travel overseas, the health ministry added.
BRUNEI, NEW ZEALAND TRAVELLERS TESTED ON ARRIVAL
Since Jun 18, travellers from low-risk countries and regions – Australia (excluding Victoria State), Brunei Darussalam, Macau, Mainland China, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam – have been allowed to serve their 14-day stay-home notice at their own place of residence.
They are also tested before the end of their stay-home notice.
"Amongst these low-risk countries, we will start by lifting our current border restrictions to allow the entry of visitors from Brunei Darussalam and New Zealand into Singapore," said MOH.
Travellers entering Singapore and who have remained in either Brunei or New Zealand in the past 14 consecutive days will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival at the airport, instead of serving the 14-day stay-home notice.
They must test negative for the coronavirus before being allowed to go about their activities in Singapore.
Visitors from these two countries will need to apply for an Air Travel Pass between seven and 30 days before their intended date of entry into Singapore. They can apply for the pass from Sep 1, for travel from Sep 8.
READ: COVID-19: Lucky Plaza, Peninsula Plaza to implement odd and even date entry restrictions on weekends
"They will be responsible for their medical bills should they require medical treatment for COVID-19 while in Singapore," MOH said.
Returning Singaporeans, permanent residents and long-term pass holders will not have to serve a stay-home notice and will undergo a COVID-19 test upon arrival. They do not need to apply for the Air Travel Pass.
"We have monitored the situation and assessed that there are several countries/regions where the virus situation is well under control and the risk of importation is low. We will therefore update our border measures accordingly," explained MOH.
According to New Zealand’s immigration website, the country’s border is closed to "almost all travellers".
"The starting point for consideration is that the New Zealand border is closed for all but critical travel, and that protecting public health in New Zealand is paramount," the website said.
Foreigners who want to enter New Zealand must first seek approval and prove that they are entering for “critical purposes”, the guidelines state.
Brunei’s tourism website, updated on Aug 15, states that all visitors will be denied entry from all ports of entry. This includes visitors on transit.
SHORTER STAY-HOME NOTICES FOR SOME TRAVELLERS
Travellers coming from some low-risk countries and regions will have their stay-home notices reduced from 14 days to seven days. The isolation period can be served at their place of residence.
These countries and regions are Australia (excluding Victoria State), Macau, Mainland China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Malaysia. They will be tested before the end of the isolation period.
All other incoming travellers will continue to serve their 14-day stay-home notices at dedicated isolation facilities, and will be subject to a COVID-19 test before the end of the notices.
"There are other low-risk countries or regions where a stay-home notice may also not be needed. But out of abundance of caution we will keep the stay-home notice for now," said MOH.
Existing travel conditions, including adhering to stay-home notice requirements and applying for relevant approval before entering Singapore, continue to apply.
Those serving such notices are reminded to only use permitted modes of transport and avoid taking public transport.
"All travellers will be subject to the prevailing border measures upon entry, including payment for their stay at dedicated stay-home facilities and tests, where applicable," said MOH.
MOH said Singapore's border measures will "evolve as the global situation changes".
If the COVID-19 situation in certain countries deteriorate, more stringent measures will be put in place to "limit the risk of importation and prevent community transmission from imported cases".
Watch the full news conference and Q&A session: