Visitors arrive from New Zealand, Brunei as Singapore opens its borders to those countries

Passengers collecting their luggage after arriving in Singapore on Sept 8, 2020. PHOTO: CAAS

SINGAPORE - The first 14 visitors from New Zealand and Brunei touched down at Changi Airport on Tuesday (Sept 8) following Singapore's unilateral reopening of its borders to the two countries.

Five were from Brunei and the remainder from New Zealand, said the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).

It added that it had approved 59 travellers from Brunei and 77 from New Zealand to fly to Singapore as of 5pm on Tuesday. Applications opened a week ago.

These visitors will come under the Air Travel Pass Scheme, which allows for all forms of short-term travel, including leisure travel. This is in contrast to reciprocal green lane arrangements between countries, which are usually for essential business and official travel.

The Government had said that it would allow visitors from the two countries, as the virus situation there is well under control and the risk of importing Covid-19 is low.

Visitors will have to take a swab test upon arrival, and will be able to go about their activities after they get a negative test result. They will have to use the TraceTogether app for the duration of their stay here, among other conditions.

Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung had said last month that the unilateral reopening of borders to Brunei and New Zealand is a "small, cautious" step that can resuscitate Changi Airport.

There are only two flights weekly from Brunei to Singapore, flying a total of 500 passengers.

From New Zealand, there are four flights weekly that can fly a total of about 1,200 passengers.

But the boost in visitor arrivals is expected to be limited, given that travel restrictions and advisories are still in place in both countries.

The New Zealand government continues to advise all its citizens not to travel overseas, even as it acknowledged Singapore's decision to open its borders.

New Zealanders who choose to travel overseas will have to serve a quarantine period of at least 14 days at a government-provided facility when they return home.

They are not allowed to self-isolate or take a domestic flight before the quarantine is completed.

Meanwhile, the Brunei government has said that its citizens, permanent residents and long-term visa holders are restricted from leaving Brunei.

The only exceptions apply to those undergoing urgent medical care overseas, attending court hearings or resuming study abroad.

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