Singaporeans advised to defer all non-essential travel

Border curbs include Asean, but won't affect S'poreans, Malaysians entering via land, sea

Singaporeans and Malaysians who use the Woodlands Checkpoint (right) and other sea and land crossings between the two countries will not be subject to the stricter border curbs kicking in today. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Singaporeans and Malaysians who use the Woodlands Checkpoint and other sea and land crossings between the two countries will not be subject to the stricter border curbs kicking in today. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Singaporeans should defer all non-essential travel, and border restrictions have been tightened to include Asean states, as the Republic moves to reduce the growing risk of Covid-19 importation.

The travel advisory for Singaporeans is with immediate effect, to reduce their risks of contracting the virus, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday. It will apply for 30 days and is subject to further review.

From 11.59pm today, all travellers - including Singapore residents, long-term pass holders and short-term visitors - entering the country with recent travel history to Asean countries, Japan, Switzerland or the United Kingdom within the last 14 days will receive a 14-day stay-home notice.

This will not apply to Singaporeans and Malaysians who travel between the two countries using the sea and land crossings, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong at a press conference yesterday.

This is given the large numbers who cross the borders daily, and to ensure that the restrictions do not impact the supply of food and other essentials between Singapore and Malaysia, the Government said.

Separate arrangements, including precautions to be taken, will be made and are being discussed by a bilateral joint working group, said Mr Wong, who co-chairs a Singapore multi-ministry task force to fight the coronavirus. About 300,000 people use the land checkpoints every day, he said.

Apart from Singaporeans and Malaysians who fall outside the latest stay-home notice requirement, all other travellers from the Asean countries, Japan, Switzerland and the UK, who are affected, will also have to provide proof of the place where they will serve the 14-day notice.

This could be a hotel booking covering the entire period, or a place of residence that they or their family members own.

They may also be swabbed for testing for Covid-19, even if asymptomatic. Currently, the test is done on travellers who show symptoms.

On top of the stay-home order, also from 11.59pm today, all short-term visitors who are nationals of any Asean country must submit, in advance, information on their health to the Singapore overseas mission in the country where they reside.

They must receive approval from Singapore's MOH before travel to the Republic, and this will be verified by Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officers at the checkpoints. Those who arrive without the necessary approvals will be turned away.

 
 
 
 

The Ministry of Manpower will introduce new measures for foreign domestic workers entering Singapore.

MOH said it has seen several imported cases entering Singapore for medical care, which imposes a significant burden on Singapore's healthcare resources.

Mr Wong said the tighter border control measures will help manage the number of imported cases, as well as the demand for healthcare services.

"It is really hard for us to cope with this additional demand during this critical period when our healthcare resources are already stretched", he noted.

In an update last night, MOH said that 14 new Covid-19 cases were confirmed - the highest in a single day - with nine of them imported.

The latest restrictions are on top of measures announced last week to contain the spread of the virus within the country, with social distancing a major line of defence.


PHOTO: MINISTRY OF HEALTH

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2020, with the headline 'S'poreans advised to defer all non-essential travel'. Subscribe