Singapore considering to lift quarantine time for travelers with low number of Covid-19 cases

29 April 2021 Singapore consider allowing residents who are vaccinated to travel to countries that have low numbers of Covid-19 cases, without having to be quarantined on their return, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung yesterday.

This is another avenue for travel that the Republic is exploring, he said, as the country prepares to open up a two-way quarantine-free travel bubble with Hong Kong on 26 May.

He noted that countries such as Britain, Denmark, France, Germany and the United States have already exempted travelers from Singapore from quarantine, in response to questions from reporters after an interview on One FM 91.3’s The Big Show.

With vaccination efforts under way in Britain and the US, the number of Covid-19 infections has been going down in those countries, he said in Mandarin, though not to a low-enough level for Singapore to reciprocate with quarantine-free travel.

“If they can keep the number of cases quite low – and it doesn’t have to go down to zero or one or two cases – we can consider allowing vaccinated Singaporeans to travel to these places. And when they return, they can just get tested instead of being quarantined,” he said.

“It won’t be considered a travel bubble, but it will be an important avenue to open up some more.”

Photo: SassymamaSG

According to Straits times’s report, tickets for flights to and from Hong Kong have been snapped up since 26 May, start date for the Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble was announced a day earlier.

The travel bubble, initially scheduled to open last November but postponed after a spike in Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong, will allow quarantine-free travel between the two cities, with no restrictions on the purpose of travel.

Travelers have to take designated flights operated by Singapore Airlines or Cathay Pacific.

They must have stayed in Singapore or Hong Kong in the 14 days prior to departure, excluding time spent serving quarantine or stay-home notice. They must also have Covid-19 swab tests on departure and return, among other things.

The minister acknowledged the pent-up demand for travel, but urged caution as the coronavirus pandemic was still evolving.

POSSIBLE SCENARIO
If they can keep the number of cases quite low – and it doesn’t have to go down to zero or one or two cases – we can consider allowing vaccinated Singaporeans to travel to these places. And when they return, they can just get tested instead of being quarantined… It won’t be considered a travel bubble, but it will be an important avenue to open up some more.

Transportation Minister Ong Ye Kung commented on the possibility of allowing vaccinated Singaporeans to travel to countries such as Britain and the United States if these places can bring down their numbers of Covid-19 cases and keep them low.
Asked if more flights will be added, Mr Ong said it was important to take things one step at a time.

“If the travel bubble works, then we can think about having more flights and even having travel bubbles with other countries. Many people will be watching to see if it succeeds, and if it does, it can serve as a model for other places.”

Zazithorn Ruengchinda

About Zazithorn Ruengchinda

ScandAsia Journalist • Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok Thailand

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