S'pore to resume travel from South Asia, eases measures for those from Malaysia, Indonesia

All travellers from Category II, III and IV nations will no longer need to undergo an on-arrival polymerase chain reaction test. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Travellers from six countries that Singapore was previously closed off to will be allowed to enter here from Wednesday, as the nation continues to adjust border measures in response to the global Covid-19 situation.

All travellers, excluding short-term visitors, with a 14-day travel history to Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore, said the Ministry of Health on Saturday (Oct 23).

MOH also said that it will be easing measures for travellers from several other countries, including Malaysia and Indonesia.

The ministry said in a release that it has reviewed the Covid-19 situation in Myanmar and the five South Asian countries it was previously closed off to.

It added that travellers from these countries will be subject to the tightest of border measures, which involve a 10-day stay-home notice (SHN) period at a dedicated facility.

During a virtual press conference by the multi-ministry task force (MTF) on Covid-19 on Saturday, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said that the situation in these countries has stabilised for some time. There is no longer a need for strict rules that prevent travellers from these countries from landing here, he said.

MOH said changes that come into effect on Wednesday include the loosening of measures for travellers from Singapore's closest neighbours, Malaysia and Indonesia, who will automatically serve their 10-day SHN at a declared place of residence or accommodation instead of a dedicated SHN facility.

Singapore classifies countries and regions into four categories based on their Covid-19 situation and risk profile, with differentiated border measures for each category.

Under the latest measures, travellers from Category I places - Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China and Taiwan - as well as those arriving from Category II countries on Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) flights, only need to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on arrival.

All travellers on VTL flights need to take a pre-departure PCR test.

All travellers from Category II countries on non-VTL flights will no longer need to undergo an on-arrival PCR test, but have to undergo an exit PCR test at the end of their seven-day SHN.

Travellers from Category III and IV countries also no longer need to undergo an on-arrival PCR test, but have to take an exit PCR test at the end of their 10-day SHN.

MOH said travellers from Malaysia and Indonesia, along with those from Cambodia, Egypt, Hungary, Israel, Mongolia, Qatar, Rwanda, Samoa, Seychelles, South Africa, Tonga, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Vietnam, will be placed under Category III measures.

Travellers from Category III regions will from Wednesday serve their 10-day SHN at their declared place of residence or accommodation, regardless of the travellers' and their household members' vaccination status and travel history. They currently have to apply to do so.

However, they must always remain in their declared accommodation and don an electronic monitoring device throughout their SHN period.

Singapore will also be facilitating the entry of more fully vaccinated domestic workers to meet the urgent domestic and caregiving needs of local households. It will do so while regulating the numbers carefully as the global situation evolves.

Mr Ong said this figure is now 200 a week, and will be increased to 1,000 a week. "This will start to clear the backlog of applications from families for helpers. MOM (Ministry of Manpower) will review the entry numbers regularly with MTF, with a view to try to fulfil the needs of as many families as quickly and promptly as possible," he added.

He also explained why Singapore has been relaxing its border control measures even as some point out that safe management measures here remain tight.

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He said the country needed tight border controls when the country had very few cases because it needed to prevent infections from "gushing in" through its borders.

The situation has now changed. Mr Ong said after going through big transmission waves for many months, the pandemic situation in many countries has stabilised.

"So we can open up travel lanes with these countries, safely," he said.

He also noted that to make things safe for Singapore, the Government has strict measures, like requiring travellers to be tested when they come in to the country. This is why Singapore's imported infection numbers have remained low, he added.

This story has been edited for clarity.

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