Singapore hopes to resume normal international travel, but insufficient data to lift restrictions for now: Ong Ye Kung
SINGAPORE: Singapore hopes to resume normal international travel, but there is not enough data to decide whether lifting travel restrictions is possible for now, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Monday (May 31).
Mr Ong was responding to a question at a COVID-19 multi-ministry task force press conference about whether Singapore would wait for neighbouring countries to achieve higher vaccination rates before lifting travel restrictions.
READ: Singapore ‘nudging’ in right direction with drop in unlinked cases over past two weeks: Ong Ye Kung
If Singapore residents are vaccinated, and the country is safe, "we hope Singaporeans can gain the freedom to travel", said Mr Ong.
This could mean travelling for business reasons or visiting relatives who are living overseas without having to serve a 21-day stay-home notice, he added.
“Of course, we hope to resume that normalcy, but I think the truth is we don’t have enough data to ... decide whether lifting all those restrictions is possible as of now,” Mr Ong said.
READ: Singapore 'on track' to bring COVID-19 outbreak under control; curbs may be eased after Jun 13: PM Lee
Singapore is “heading in the right direction”, said the Health Minister.
"If we can get ourselves substantially vaccinated, protected, certainly travel restrictions will have to be reviewed with a view to restore our ability to travel and become a business hub," said Mr Ong.
The Government has “always taken a risk-based approach” towards travel restrictions, said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force.
“If you look at our border measures, we already differentiate countries by risk and based on the infection levels in these countries. So if a country is safe, we already allow Singaporeans to go there and come back without any quarantine in Singapore," he added.
"And we even allow travellers from these places to come to Singapore without quarantine.
“On the other hand, if a country is not so safe, there are high incidence rates that are prevalent in these places, then we have tighter border control measures where travellers coming in will have to serve a quarantine in a dedicated facility.”
Singapore will continue with this approach “in the coming months”, said Mr Wong.
“If more countries become safe, infection rates come down, vaccination rates are high, then potentially, we will be able to open up more with these places," he added.
“On the other hand, if they are places where the incidence rates will remain high, and there are concerns (that) they are high-risk areas, then the border measures will remain and the quarantine measures will remain.”