'Holistic assessment' conducted before deciding to allow travel to another country: Chee Hong Tat

'Holistic assessment' conducted before deciding to allow travel to another country: Chee Hong Tat

Chee Hong Tat - Jun 4 2020
Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat speaking in Parliament on Jun 4 2020. 

SINGAPORE: Singapore conducts a "holistic assessment" that takes into account various factors beyond a low recorded number of COVID-19 infections before deciding whether to allow travel to other countries, said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat on Thursday (Jun 4). 

Considerations include the country's testing capacity and how well it has kept infections under control, said Mr Chee in Parliament in response to Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan, who asked how the Government was tackling the issue of countries that had not conducted sufficient testing for the coronavirus and thus had artificially low numbers of infections.

"It is a holistic assessment before we decide which are the countries that are safe enough for us to have these green lane arrangements,” he said.  

“And the other countries are making the same assessment about us, so it has to be a bilateral mutual agreement before we can establish such channels.”

READ: Singapore, China to launch 'fast lane' arrangement with COVID-19 measures for essential business, official travel

On Wednesday, it was announced that the first green lane arrangement, between Singapore and six Chinese provinces or municipalities, would be launched on Jun 8.

In Parliament, Mr Chee noted that in addition to ensuring community spread of COVID-19 in both countries is under control, travellers must also take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within a 48-period before departure for green lane arrangements to be allowed. 

Such arrangements are part of a gradual reopening of Singapore’s borders to safe international travel, said the Senior Minister of State. 

Short-term travel into Singapore was first restricted on Mar 22 to prevent the import of COVID-19 cases. 

Mr Chee said that travel will be restarted on a limited scale, focusing first on “essential travel for businesses to function and for purposes such as maintaining critical infrastructure and providing needed services”. 

“As global conditions improve, we will gradually expand such arrangements to include more groups of travellers,” he said. 

READ: Business and official travellers on Singapore-China 'fast lane' arrangement must get COVID-19 swab tests

In a joint statement on Wednesday, Singapore’s Foreign Affairs and Trade and Industry ministries laid out a list of requirements for safe travel. 

For example, Singapore residents making essential travel to China must be sponsored by a company or a government agency in China.

Meanwhile, residents in China seeking to make essential travel to Singapore must be sponsored by either a company or a Singapore government agency, which will file an application on behalf of the applicant for a SafeTravel Pass. 

Travellers must adhere to a controlled itinerary that is supervised by the host company or government agency for the first 14 days, the two ministries said. 

Those travelling into Singapore are required to use contact tracing mobile app TraceTogether for the duration of their stay, while Singapore residents travelling into China will have to use the country's local Health QR code during their stay.

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Source: CNA/az(hs)

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