Coronavirus: Singapore and Japan will work towards resuming essential travel

A view of the transit area at Changi Airport Terminal 3 on June 23, 2020. PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Singapore welcomes Japan's move to include the Republic in discussions on the resumption of essential travel and will work closely with Japan to make progress in this area, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said on Thursday (July 23).

This was in response to media queries after Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced on Wednesday that Japan will be looking at relaxing entry restrictions for business travellers from 12 Asian territories.

According to The Japan Times, these territories are Singapore, Cambodia, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Brunei, Malaysia, Myanmar, Mongolia, Laos and Taiwan.

The travellers need to self-quarantine for 14 days, pass a Covid-19 test and avoid using public transportation.

Japan will also consider a similar framework for business travellers outside of those 12 territories.

"Singapore and Japan are strong economic partners. The establishment of a reciprocal green lane between our countries will be an important and positive step forward towards restoring connectivity and facilitating essential business and official travel with the necessary public health safeguards," said an MFA spokesman.

This will also complement an agreement made by both countries in May to deepen bilateral economic cooperation to secure supply chains for essential goods and strengthen economic resilience amid the pandemic, the MFA added.

"We will work closely with the Japanese government to make progress on resuming such essential travel."

Currently, Japan has an entry ban in place for 129 countries and regions, said the Nikkei Asian Review. The country also said on Wednesday that it will progressively ease entry bans for employees of foreign companies in Japan and overseas students who have a status of residence.

At present, Singapore has green lane arrangements in place with China and Malaysia and is working on similar arrangements with other countries.

The Singapore-China "fast lane" agreement, which was launched in June, enables travellers from both sides to fly into each other's countries without serving quarantine periods of up to 14 days.

Instead, they must take a Covid-19 swab test 48 hours before departure and after they land. They must also submit detailed itineraries and the business organisations or government entities sponsoring them must file applications on their behalf.

Singapore and Malaysia also agreed earlier this month to restart cross-border travel for essential business and official travellers and long-term pass holders through two schemes: the reciprocal green lane and the periodic commuting arrangement.

Travellers will have to get swabbed for Covid-19 and submit their itineraries to the relevant authorities.

More details will be announced before these new travel schemes take effect on Aug 10.

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