Coronavirus: Leisure travel may not be possible this year, says Lawrence Wong

But talks on green lane arrangements will proceed to facilitate essential business travel

Border control measures for travellers who are entering Singapore will also be continually reviewed and updated.
Border control measures for travellers who are entering Singapore will also be continually reviewed and updated.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Singaporeans are unlikely to be able to travel for leisure this year, though essential business travel will be possible.

At a virtual press conference yesterday, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said: "Our overall advisory, it remains for everyone in Singapore, is not to travel, to avoid all travel."

He added that even though the virus situation is dynamic and constantly changing, the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 - which he co-chairs - does not see things improving any time soon.

"Looking at the situation, the Covid-19 infection around the world is unlikely to go away. At the end of the year, it will continue to be with us, even till next year.

"So, it is unlikely that we will see improvement in the situation in the near term, which means that our travel advisory position is unlikely to change in the near term as well," he said.

However, negotiations with countries on reciprocal green lane arrangements will proceed to facilitate essential business travel, so long as the country Singapore is talking to has the appropriate control measures.

Green lanes "are not just free for all travel", reminded Mr Wong.

"A traveller coming in through a reciprocal green lane has to abide by and comply with certain control measures, including testing at the point of departure and point of arrival, and then following a very strict and controlled itinerary."

He added: "This will not apply to mass tourism travel... that, I think, will not happen any time soon."

The task force will also continually review and update border control measures for travellers who are entering Singapore, he said.

In the light of the resurgence of cases in certain countries, travellers entering Singapore from Japan, Hong Kong and Australia's Victoria state from July 20 will have to serve their stay-home notice (SHN) at dedicated facilities instead of their own places of residence.

They will also have to undergo a Covid-19 test before the end of their SHN period.

Travellers who left Singapore from March 27, despite the prevailing travel advisory against leaving the country, are required to pay for their stay at dedicated SHN facilities. Travellers who are not Singapore citizens or permanent residents also have to pay for their stay at dedicated SHN facilities.

The Straits Times understands that the cost of each 14-day stay is about $2,000. The Covid-19 test for each person costs another $200.

 

Mr Wong said: "In some countries, you are seeing a resurgence - it has not been controlled at all and the cases are still accelerating. So, we really need to remain vigilant."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2020, with the headline 'Leisure travel may not be possible this year: Wong'. Print Edition | Subscribe