Can you remember the last time you took a vacation?
The pleasure of jetting off to a foreign land and experiencing the wonders of different cultures is something many Singaporeans enjoy.
It not only gives you a chance to have some fun and relax, it’s also a necessary respite from work, which would cause you to spontaneously combust otherwise.
But, alas, this has been snatched away from us by the coronavirus.
Ever since countries all over the world imposed travel restrictions, residents have been clamouring for this simple pleasure to return.
Well, if we’re good, it might just come back sooner than we think.
Minister: S’pore Willing to Reopen Borders Further
Singapore is prepared to reopen its borders further, but only if the necessary safeguards are in place.
This was the message our Education Minister and lover of light-coloured shirts Lawrence Wong had for reporters at a press conference on Tuesday (10 Nov).
If a country has a similar incidence rate of Covid-19 infection as Singapore, the authorities may allow travellers to only undergo tests, instead of tests and a stay-home notice (SHN) or home quarantine.
But if the country has a high-risk of infection, then visitors from those countries must undergo the full 14-day SHN.
“Most of them will be in the dedicated facilities and hotels, but in some instances, based on risk assessment, we might allow them to stay at home, but subject to electronic monitoring device.”
However, given the nature of the virus, whether places are deemed to be low-risk or high-risk can change by the day.
When asked about Indonesia’s plan to propose a regional travel corridor, Minister Wong said they will only ease border restrictions country by country.
“Within the region, the countries have different incidence rates, different prevalence rates. You cannot apply a single measure to all the countries in the region,” he said. “We will still look at it country by country, and apply these same principles to individual countries”, he said.
Travellers From Macau and Taiwan Still Required to Undergo Quarantine
For those who don’t know, both Macau and Taiwan have had zero community cases for some time.
However, visitors from these countries still have to serve a seven-day SHN when they arrive in Singapore.
This isn’t the case for travellers from Brunei, New Zealand, Vietnam, Australia, and mainland China, who are only required to take a Covid-19 test upon arrival.
When asked why visitors from Macau and Taiwan still have to undergo quarantine, Minister Wong said requirements are “where it is now” and can be adjusted later if these countries remain low-risk for some time.
Reader: That’s great for people who want to visit Singapore, but what about us?
Well, I’ve saved the best news for last, dear reader.
Keen on Discussing Air Travel Bubbles With More Countries
As you know, Singapore already has a travel bubble arrangement with Hong Kong that will commence from 22 November 2020. You can read more about it here.
Minister Wong said Singapore is keen on discussing air travel bubbles with more countries that are either safe or low-risk.
This, however, isn’t as easy as it sounds.
For instance, Singaporeans are actually allowed to travel to New Zealand and Brunei, but both countries have border restrictions of their own.
So, travel bubbles can only materialise when both countries come to an agreement.
As Minister Wong explained: “We do not have travel bubbles with all the places which are lower-risk because that requires bilateral negotiations and agreement on both sides mutually. We continue to discuss these possibilities”.
Still, the fact that we’re discussing more travel bubbles in November is certainly a good sign.
Hopefully, if the situation improves in other countries, we’ll be able to take a much-needed vacation next year.
And yes, this means we can still travel overseas on CNY 2021 after all.