SINGAPORE - Singapore will allow general travel to Brunei and New Zealand, as well as for students studying overseas from Sept 1.
However, those intending to visit Brunei and New Zealand are advised to check the entry requirements imposed by these countries, and take the necessary precautionary measures, the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 said on Friday (Aug 21).
Students studying overseas at institutions where distance-learning is not offered as an option by the school will also be allowed to travel, said Education Minister Lawrence Wong.
Singapore is also relaxing its border controls, so that visitors from Brunei or New Zealand, who have remained in the country in the last consecutive 14 days prior to their visit to Singapore, will not have to serve a stay-home notice when they arrive here.
Instead, they will undergo a Covid-19 test upon arrival at the airport, and only be allowed to go about their activities in Singapore after receiving a negative test result.
Mr Wong, who co-chairs the task force, gave this update at a virtual press conference, saying that the Covid-19 situation around the world is still very fluid, and that Singapore will update its border control measures based on its data assessment.
He said: "We know that some places have been able to control the infection effectively, and the risk of importation is low. Our assessment is that there is no need for a stay-home notice requirement for travellers from these low risk places, and a Covid-19 test will be sufficient."
Singapore is starting cautiously, with visitors from the two countries, he said.
Visitors from Brunei and New Zealand will need to apply for an Air Travel Pass - applications for which will start on Sept 1 - between seven and 30 days before their intended date of arrival here. They will also be responsible for their medical bills should they require medical treatment for Covid-19 while in Singapore.
Mr Wong noted that there are other low risk countries and regions, and that visitors from these areas may not need to serve a stay-home notice. "But out of abundance of caution we will keep the requirement for now," he said.
However, the stay-home notice period for visitors from Australia (excluding Victoria state), Macau, mainland China, Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia will be shortened, from the current 14 days to seven days.
They will also be tested for Covid-19 before the end of their stay-home notice at their place of residence.
There are three categories in Singapore's framework for relaxing its borders, said Mr Wong: Travellers who do not have to serve a stay-home notice, visitors who can serve a shorter stay-home notice at their own place of residence, and finally, visitors who must serve the usual 14-day period at a dedicated facility.
"Of course, the countries in the different categories will continue to be updated over time. So this is not cast in stone. We continue to assess the situation, and we will update the list of countries over time," he said.
On allowing students to travel overseas, Mr Wong said: "Many foreign education institutions are resuming terms quite soon and we know that they are students based in Singapore, who are full-time students, and who have to go back to school in these various institutions."
The latest update to the travel advisories - allowing general travel to Brunei and New Zealand, and for overseas studies - would mean that these travellers will be eligible for government subsidies and insurance coverage for treatment in Singapore if they end up being infected with Covid-19, he said.
While essential travel for business, official and work purposes will continue to be permitted under reciprocal arrangements - such as under schemes Singapore has with Malaysia and China - all other forms of travel is still not advised, said the task force.
"When overseas, travellers should take all necessary precautions, observe good personal hygiene, monitor local developments, and heed the advice of local authorities," it added.