S'pore will take risk-based approach in allowing overseas travel in coming months: Lawrence Wong

If infection rates in many countries remain high, border and quarantine measures will remain.
If infection rates in many countries remain high, border and quarantine measures will remain.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - A risk-based approach will be taken in allowing travel for Singaporeans in the coming months, even as more of Singapore's population gets vaccinated, said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong on Monday (May 31).

This means that people coming from countries designated as safe, whether they are returning Singaporeans or travellers, will not need to be quarantined when they arrive in Singapore.

On the other hand, those coming from countries deemed unsafe, with high Covid-19 incidence rates, will have to serve quarantine in a dedicated facility.

Explaining this at a virtual press conference, Mr Wong said this has been the Government's approach since the start of the pandemic, and can be seen in border measures that are differentiated and adjusted based on each country's infection rates and corresponding risk level.

The co-chair for the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 was responding to a BBC journalist, who had asked if Singapore will allow its people to travel freely in the scenario of full vaccination, or if it would wait until other countries in the region catch up in vaccinating their people.

Mr Wong said if the situation in more countries improve and they are considered safe - such as if infection rates come down and vaccination rates are high - then, potentially, Singapore will be able to open up more with these places.

On the flip side, if infection rates in many countries remain high, border and quarantine measures will remain.

Singapore has been taking steps to resume leisure travel, with the Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble originally slated to start around the end of May after an earlier delay. However, the arrangement has been deferred again after the recent spikes in Covid-19 cases here.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said Singapore is working towards the resumption of travel without as many restrictions, for example allowing people to go overseas for work or to see their relatives without having to serve a 21-day stay-home notice upon returning.

"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," he added.

"But certainly we are heading in the right direction if we can get ourselves substantially vaccinated, protected."