Coronavirus: Singapore

Gan: Waiving SHN could be among concessions for vaccinated travellers

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung

People who have received their Covid-19 vaccinations "will be given some concession when travelling or returning to Singapore", Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong said yesterday.

Such concessions could include waiving the need for travellers to serve stay-home notice when they return to Singapore, and instead have them undergo more frequent testing to ensure they are coronavirus free, added Mr Gan, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19.

At the same time, Singapore is holding discussions with other countries to mutually recognise digital vaccine certificates in the hopes of opening up air travel.

The announcements come as the Republic ramps up its vaccination drive, setting an ambitious target of having two-thirds of its population fully vaccinated by around National Day on Aug 9. The task force said that with higher vaccination numbers, Singapore will be looking to live with Covid-19 as an endemic disease.

Mr Gan said: "With higher rates of vaccination, we will also be able to resume travelling. Those who have been vaccinated will be given some concession when travelling or returning to Singapore.

"For example, vaccinated travellers, including Singaporeans who travel overseas and (are) returning to Singapore, may undergo more frequent testing in lieu of serving stay-home notices (SHN)."

Travel disruptions arising from the pandemic have put immense pressure on companies, especially those which depend on migrant workers, as well as families that depend on foreign domestic workers.

To help with this, Mr Gan said that more workers, in particular migrant workers and foreign domestic workers, will be allowed to enter Singapore.

"This will ease the immense pressures our companies have been under since the start of the pandemic, and allow stalled projects to restart, family members to reunite and their migrant domestic workers to join them."

He added that as the number of vaccinated people rises in the countries these workers come from, and if they are able to control and manage infections, the number of workers allowed from these places will also increase.

At the same time, the Republic is in talks with other countries about further opening up air travel too.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, also a co-chair of the task force, likened opening up an air travel corridor to an exam, which Singapore and other countries are doing the necessary homework for now.

"Discussing (and) recognising each other's digital certificates, that is just like doing homework - just getting the homework done while envisioning that some day you may open up some form of air travel arrangement," said Mr Ong.

"So, I think all this homework should be done now with as many partners as possible - just getting the paperwork and the mutual recognition sorted out."

Asked if there were discussions with Malaysia to use its contact-tracing app MySejahtera for cross-border travel, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong - a task force co-chair - said Singapore is in talks with many countries.

"Each time there is some news of one particular country, I can understand and appreciate the interest," he said. "These conversations continue, and as and when we have any updates, we will let people know."

Mr Wong said the Government will also be revising the public health guidelines for vaccinated people within Singapore, including permitting larger gatherings.

"We could allow gatherings involving just vaccinated persons to have larger group sizes, and also relax the social distancing rules in such settings, because only vaccinated persons are involved," he said, adding that this could apply to a range of different settings, including religious services, sporting events and weddings.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2021, with the headline Gan: Waiving SHN could be among concessions for vaccinated travellers. Subscribe