Some of us haven’t travelled for so long we’ve forgotten what Changi Airport looks like.
The lovely orchid tea fragrance that greets you at the entrance, the sound of tiny wheels dragging across the floor, and the promise of a relaxing vacation in a faraway land now seem like vague dreams we once had, instead of actual memories.
There’s good reason to be optimistic, however.
Infections in the country are falling, albeit very slowly, and more and more restrictions are being eased.
In fact, Singapore’s border reopening is already well underway.
First 14 Passengers From Brunei & New Zealand Arrive In S’pore; 136 More Coming
14 visitors arrived in Singapore on Tuesday (8 Sept), following the partial easing of border restrictions in the country.
Five of the visitors had arrived from Brunei while the remaining nine were from New Zealand, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).
The country can expect even more tourists in the coming weeks, as CAAS confirmed it had issued a total of 136 Air Travel Passes; 59 for travellers from Brunei and 77 for New Zealanders.
It won’t be that easy for tourists from these two countries to visit Singapore, however.
According to Mothership, Brunei has two flights here weekly which can carry around 500 people, while New Zealand has four flights here every week, ferrying a maximum of 1,200 passengers.
Furthermore, only citizens, permanent residents, and long-term visa holders in Brunei who are going abroad to study, attend court hearings, or get medical treatment will be allowed to leave the country.
Yes, unfortunately for Bruneians, having a delicious plate of Chicken Rice is not a legitimate reason to go abroad.
And New Zealanders who travel abroad have to serve a quarantine period of at least 14 days at a government-provided facility when they return home.
As you know, the authorities announced last month that residents here will be allowed to travel to New Zealand and Brunei for leisure from 1 Sept.
Conversely, travellers from those two countries will not have to serve a stay-home notice when they come to Singapore.
There are a few precautionary measures they have to follow, though.
Before they book their tickets, visitors are advised to apply for the single-entry Air Travel Pass between seven and 30 calendar days before their arrival in Singapore.
There are several conditions attached to the pass, including undergoing a Covid-19 test upon arrival (which will cost $300) and downloading the TraceTogether app, which should be switched on for the entirety of their stay.
In fact, they must still have the app installed on their phones within two weeks of departure from Singapore so that if they happen to be infected with Covid-19, they will have to upload the data to the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Additionally, travellers who test positive for the coronavirus while in Singapore must also pay for their own treatment.
New Zealand’s Border’s Still Closed to Tourists
While Singapore opened its arms a little to some travellers, New Zealand has kept hers folded tight.
Sadly, only New Zealand citizens are able to enter the country without prior approval.
For other travellers looking to enter the country, they must fall under one of these categories:
- Be a partner or dependent child of a New Zealand citizen or resident, who holds a visa based on their relationship with a New Zealand citizen or resident partner or parent.
- Be a diplomat who holds a post in New Zealand.
- Be someone who has been considered by the New Zealand government as having a critical purpose for travel while the border is closed and having been granted a visa which recognises this
You’ll need to submit a request to the Immigration New Zealand (INZ) and receive an invitation to apply for a visa, which could very well be rejected.
Why Are We Opening Up?
You’re probably wondering why tourists are allowed to come here when so many countries have kept their border shut.
That’s because Changi Airport is as empty as coffee shops during the circuit breaker, and partially easing border restrictions can help resuscitate our dying tourist industry.
As Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said: “The aviation sector, Changi Airport and Singapore Airlines do not just concern the sector itself, but are linked to the whole economy…So we need to really start to take steps to open up in a safe manner that can revive Changi Airport and resuscitate the aviation sector.”
“I believe we can strike a good balance between keeping Singapore and travellers here safe, as well as reviving the air traffic sector”, he added.
So, while you may not be able to jet off to a foreign land for a relaxing vacation just yet, things seem to be improving, and more and more restrictions are being eased.
Maybe it’s just a matter of time before we return to Changi Airport, and smell that sweet, sweet orchid tea scent.
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