Some travellers serving stay-home notice in S'pore have been told they can check out earlier

The Health Ministry has said it would contact travellers currently in isolation about any new arrangements.
The Health Ministry has said it would contact travellers currently in isolation about any new arrangements.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Halfway through a draining three weeks alone in a hotel room, Mr Rayford Callier felt both hope and frustration when news arrived that the length of Singapore's stay-home notice (SHN) is to be cut from 21 to 14 days for all incoming travellers.

Mr Callier, 51, who works in the offshore industry in Brazil, has been making monthly trips to and from Singapore for the past 12 years. His wife, who is Singaporean, lives here.

"My routine used to be 28 days of work in Brazil, followed by 28 days back in Singapore, but this has been changed to 35 days each amid the Covid-19 pandemic, taking into account the time needed for quarantine," he told The Straits Times.

Having arrived in Singapore on June 13 during the recent heightened alert, however, he was prepared to stay longer in the hotel this time. The quarantine requirement in Brazil is four days, said Mr Callier.

The lengthier notice meant that Mr Callier would have just five days with his wife, down from the usual 12 or so, and his frustration stems from not knowing if he can finish early now.

"It's been a little depressing to be honest, as the time spent in isolation is much longer," he said, noting that this would be his third SHN so far.

The Health Ministry has said it would contact travellers currently in isolation about any new arrangements.

However, some individuals have already received confirmation from their respective hotels that they can check out after 14 days if they have a negative Covid-19 test.

Mr Kenneth Ferino, a permanent resident who flew back to Singapore from the Philippines on June 20, got word from his hotel that he can now check out on July 3.

The 18-year-old student, who is back for national service, said: "I felt really relieved because it's mentally challenging to be isolated for 21 days. It's also very expensive, since the cost of the 21-day SHN is $3,000, excluding the cost of the swab test."

Other travellers yet to arrive were elated by the news and are adjusting their itineraries accordingly.

Mr Harry Ho, 57, who shuttles every few months between Singapore and Cambodia, where he works in Phnom Penh, is planning to adjust his return flight to Singapore to end-September. He is scheduled to fly out from Singapore on Thursday and his flight back was initially scheduled for mid-December.

The lengthier notice meant that Mr Rayford Callier would have just five days with his wife. PHOTO: COURTESY OF RAYFORD CALLIER

Now that Singapore is back on a 14-day stay-home period, Mr Ho said, he can go back to travelling quarterly, rather than every six months. He comes home to Singapore regularly to spend time with family.

"Over time, as more people are vaccinated, we should reduce SHN and have it at our own residence," he said.

Retired civil servant Dolly Goh, 63, who is in London visiting her daughter, said: "I'm so relieved that the SHN is now 14 days instead of 21.

"My son is getting married in August, so my husband and I are flying back to Singapore next month. Good to know that we will have more time to help with the preparations instead of sitting in a hotel room."