The transit hall at Changi International Airport in Singapore on January 12, 2022.
Roslan Rahman | AFP | Getty Images
SINGAPORE — Singapore intends to allow vaccinated visitors from all countries to skip quarantine upon arrival when the omicron wave passes, authorities announced at a virtual press briefing on Wednesday.
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said the travel rules were aimed at preventing the importation of infections into the country, but this category of cases accounts for only 1% of daily cases and “no longer has a problem.” ‘material impact’ on the Covid situation in Singapore.
Going forward, the focus will be on whether visitors to Singapore will become seriously ill and burden the healthcare system, he said.
“There should actually be less emphasis on the SHN and testing on travelers, [and] more to make sure they are fully vaccinated and strengthened,” he said.
“Instead of having vaccinated lanes or VTLs with select countries that we believe are low risk, we should actually allow non-SHN travel for … fully vaccinated travelers from all countries,” Ong said. , referring to stay-at-home notices issued to visitors to Singapore.
“We shouldn’t make this transition now, but after the omicron wave has peaked and started to subside,” he added.
Authorities have not set a date for the new policy to take effect, but Gan Kim Yong, the minister of trade and industry, said the omicron wave could peak in a few weeks.
Vaccinated circulation routes
In a bid to reopen its borders, Singapore had previously announced several so-called vaccinated travel corridors that allow travelers from certain countries to visit without quarantining.
But when the new border measures come into effect, vaccinated travelers from all countries will not be subject to quarantine requirements.
“Our ultimate goal is quarantine-free travel for all vaccinated travellers,” said Transport Minister S Iswaran.
As Singapore moves to a “vaccinated traveler system”, this will first change the way it categorizes the countries from which visitors come.
From February 22, countries will be divided into three main groups – restricted, general and low infection. The vast majority of countries will be in the general category and will be subject to the same entry requirements unless a VTL has been launched.
No countries will be in the restricted category at this time, but countries and regions could be moved there if a new variant of concern is detected, authorities said.
Separately, a press release from the Ministry of Health said previously delayed vaccinated travel routes with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will begin on February 25. Authorities also announced that new VTLs for Israel, Hong Kong and the Philippines will be launched.
Singapore reported a record 19,420 new Covid cases on Tuesday.
In the last 28 days, 99.7% of reported cases had mild symptoms or no symptoms.
The city-state has reported 497,997 Covid cases and 913 related deaths since the start of the Covid pandemic.
About 90% of the population of Singapore received two injections under the national vaccination program and 64% of the population received boosters.
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