Airline crew exempt from stay-home notices if precautions taken

SIA cabin crew wearing masks as they arrive at Changi Airport Terminal 3 on Feb 14, 2020.
SIA cabin crew wearing masks as they arrive at Changi Airport Terminal 3 on Feb 14, 2020.PHOTO: ST FILE

Pilots and cabin crew from both local and foreign airlines will not be issued with stay-home notices (SHNs) after entering Singapore in the course of their work, provided various precautions, such as not leaving their hotels, are taken.

From 11.59pm on Friday, all Singaporeans, permanent residents, long-term pass holders and short-term visitors entering Singapore have been served with a 14-day stay-home notice. This means they have to remain in their place of residence at all times for two weeks after arriving.

But in response to queries, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said airline crew will be exempt from these rules if they comply with stringent measures set out by the Ministry of Health to minimise the risk of exposure to people with Covid-19 before, during and after the flight.

On the guidelines for returning crew of local airlines, CAAS said: "This includes staying on board the aircraft when it is at an airport in an affected area, and wearing masks during the flight.

"Where it is necessary to stay over to meet flight safety requirements, the crew must stay at hotels away from city centres, remain in their hotel rooms, and also monitor their health and temperature."

Similarly, air crew of foreign airlines arriving in Singapore will not be issued SHNs if they stay on board the aircraft.

"If they need to rest in Singapore to meet flight safety requirements, they must ensure that they do not leave their hotel rooms and check their temperature regularly," said CAAS.

Previously, only travellers coming from harder-hit countries such as mainland China, Italy and South Korea were bound by the additional restrictions, which have grown progressively stricter as the global outbreak grows in severity.

Singaporeans and long-term pass holders returning from these areas are served 14-day SHNs, while short-term visitors with recent history to these areas are not allowed entry or to transit here. The rules for the harder-hit areas, which also include France, Germany, Iran and Spain, are still in force.

SIA had told its crew in a note last week that it is "working with the relevant authorities to seek dispensation for crew who have operated flights to these destinations".

In response to queries about the SHNs for crew, both SIA and SIA Group's budget arm Scoot said they comply with the regulations put in place by CAAS for crew layovers.

But SIA added it has stopped layovers for crew on flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, Incheon, Busan and Japan, with the exception of SQ12/SQ11 on the Singapore-Narita-Los Angeles routes.

This means crew flying to these cities are required to head back to Singapore as soon as possible instead of staying overnight there.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 22, 2020, with the headline 'Airline crew exempt from stay-home notices if precautions taken'. Subscribe