Singapore and Sydney Tighten Restrictions on Returning Travelers

New quarantine requirements are in force for those entering the Lion City from certain areas; the limit on daily international arrivals at Sydney Airport has been lowered by more than 20 percent.

The Singapore River as seen from Boat Quay. (Photo: nextvoyage/Pixabay)

As of today, Singapore residents returning from Hong Kong, Japan, and the Australian state of Victoria can no longer spend their two-week mandatory quarantine period at home. Singapore’s minister for national development Lawrence Wong—and co-chair of the ministerial-level Covid-19 taskforce—announced the change at a press conference last Friday, in which he said, “travelers with recent travel history or transit in these areas will now be required to serve their Stay-Home Notices at dedicated facilities instead of their own place of residence.”

The recent spike in coronavirus infections in all three regions is a major cause for concern. Japan recorded more than 600 new cases on Friday, the highest tally for a single day since the state of emergency was lifted on May 25. Metropolitan Melbourne’s five million residents are in the middle of a six-week lockdown, with face masks and coverings due to be made mandatory starting on Thursday. A similar rule will see face masks required at all public indoor venues in Hong Kong, where the daily count of newly confirmed Covid-19 infections surpassed 100 for the first time yesterday.

Wong added, “our border measures are not static; they are not cast in stone. We are constantly reviewing, updating them based on our assessment of the viral situation around the world in different countries.” He also cautioned everyone in Singapore to avoid all travel given the current circumstances: “The number of cases globally continues to rise. It is not plateauing; it is rising. In some countries you are seeing a resurgence, in some countries it has not even been controlled at all, and the cases are still accelerating.”

Over in Australia, the numbers of overseas arrivals in Sydney is now capped at 350 per day—a significant reduction of 100 from the previous limit introduced on July 5. The new restriction went into effect shortly after midnight local time. In a statement, New South Wales state premier Gladys Berejiklian said, “NSW is the gateway to Australia and it is important that passengers returning home do not overrun the capacity of NSW Health and hotel quarantine.”

Travelers must foot the bill for hotel quarantine, unless their flights were booked before 11:59 p.m. (Australian Eastern Standard Time) on July 12. Accommodation will be arranged by the New South Wales state government, and priced at a fixed rate of AU$3000 (about US$2,096) for one adult’s entire stay, including meals. Additional adult occupants will need to pay AU$1,000 (US$699) each, with every child aged three or above charged half that amount.

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