Swedish ambassador to Singapore, Niclas Kvarnström released on 27 November 2020 a letter to the community:
We are approaching Christmas and New Year by storm, and with that for most people, a hope of leave and time with loved ones. I know that there are many Swedes in Singapore who have hoped to travel home to Sweden during this time, especially when so many of you because of the pandemic were forced to cancel planned home trips during the summer. Unfortunately, the reality is that Covid-19 still holds the world in an iron grip and that a second wave with a dramatic increase in illnesses and deaths is sweeping across Europe. In Sweden, more than 200 people are being cared for in writing at ICU, and the death toll is once again high. The Prime Minister strengthened in a TV-broadcast speech to the nation last Sunday’s seriousness and urged everyone to follow the recommendations from the authorities, some of which have been sharpened. The speech can both be seen and read on the government website.
The fact that Singapore since 2 November is now the exception to the entry ban to Sweden is a flimsy comfort for Swedes who want to travel to or back to Singapore, as the entry restrictions here continue to be very strict. We have understood that it has eased something to be able to obtain an entry permit to Singapore for Swedes with Employment Pass. However, it is still not allowed for short-term visitors to enter Singapore from most countries. As usual, the embassy tries to keep track of the latest regulations in both directions, and most questions about this are answered here:
The embassy has, as we previously informed, returned to regular visiting hours, Monday-Friday 9-12 (pass cases Monday , Wednesday and Friday 9-12). You can always get in touch with us or in case of emergency on call in Stockholm via the phone.
At the same time, Singapore has now had more than two weeks without a single new Covid case that has not been imported and discovered in quarantine, a situation that the Singaporean authorities have worked very hard to achieve. As you probably know, Singapore is now preparing to transition to ′′ Phase 3 “, during which you want to slow and securely ease the restrictions for all of us living in Singapore, which is also something to look forward to.
With the difficulties of physically going to Sweden, homesickness may grow and with this a longing for something Swedish in our tropical life. The embassy wants to do what we can to spread some Swedish seasonal atmosphere. Unfortunately, the Covid restrictions make traditional Lucia celebrations at the Swedish school, under SWEA’s auspices and at the ambassador’s residence, impossible this year. But unless new obstacles arise, the embassy together with our Nordic colleagues plans to perform a small scale Lucia performance at Gardens by the Bay, which for the second year in a row has “Nordic Christmas” as a theme, and to this we would like to invite you all digitally. I hope we can repeat the fine Swedish turnout and sense of commonality we had during National Day earlier this year, and that as many of you as possible can connect digitally – keep an eye out for invitation on the embassy’s Facebook page, and also for the opportunity to order a lunch package from a “Nordic Christmas menu” in collaboration with our hired chef Matteo. In addition, we also hope to open invitations to this year’s digital Nobel Prize event on 10 December, when those interested can listen to a panel on the theme of science and innovation with the participation of one of Sweden’s leading research personalities, the principal of a Singaporean university and a life live Nobel prize winners and also a series of distinguished Swedish and Singaporian researchers introducing this year’s prize winners – whether you dress in a coat and prom dress before you log on is up to you! Sweden will also be strongly represented during Singapore’s annual FinTech festival, the world’s largest, with a live broadcast digital from Stockholm, which also includes a speech by a Swedish secretary of state from the Ministry of Finance.
In the positive side, I also want to highlight our fantastic Chamber of Commerce SwedCham’s initiative SESG Standing Together, organized together with Forsman & Bodenfors and Singapore’s Economic Development Board. The initiative, which paired twelve Swedish big companies with local small business activities as a way to help each other in a time of crisis and show that Swedish companies are deeply rooted in Singapore, has received broad attention. In addition to articles in the Straits Times and Business Times, both Singapore’s prime minister and trade minister have famously celebrated the social media campaign. I hope you all have time to watch the great video introducing the venture:
Now we are approaching a new year, and we can only hope that it will be a better year than the Covid year 2020. The latest news about vaccines is encouraging, including from Swedish-British AstraZeneca, but of course it is far too early to say about how quickly and effective vaccines can counteract Covid and a time horizon for a return to something similar to normality. But I hope we can enter the new year with new energy and a hope of some post-Covid time. I hope you all, despite the pandemic and its restrictions, will have a nice end of the year and wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year!
Ambassador of Sweden to Singapore