SINGAPORE: Singapore is in talks with other countries on whether travel restrictions can be lifted with safeguards in place.
If there are sufficient precautions such as COVID-19 testing before departure or upon arrival, Singapore is prepared to work bilaterally with countries and regions that are ready to put in place such safety measures, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on Tuesday (May 12).
Discussions on how to reopen national borders are ongoing, he noted.
“If these sorts of safeguards are put in place and agreed upon potentially, we can have green lanes for travelers to travel between countries,” said Mr Wong, who is also co-chair of Singapore’s COVID-19 multi-ministry task force.
"In these discussions, all countries are quite mindful and quite careful that we have to ensure that it's safe for us to have this exchanges, so therefore I think it's important for us to put in place safeguards both locally in our own country as well as in the partnering countries if we were to establish these arrangements."
The infection rates in countries, the types of precautions in place, the effectiveness of infection control and safe distancing measures, as well as the countries’ testing regimes will also be taken into consideration, said Mr Wong.
“There are multiple factors that we will take into account to ensure that even if you want to open up in a limited way ... it has to be done so in a safe way," he added.
Singapore announced on Mar 22 that it would not allow short-term visitors to enter or transit through the country in view of the heightened risk of imported COVID-19 cases then.
The number of imported cases has since gone down to zero on most days, with the vast majority of COVID-19 infections among the migrant worker community in dormitories.
Cases within the local community have also been falling, but Health Minister Gan Kim Yong warned on Tuesday that Singapore must remain vigilant even as "circuit breaker" measures are eased.