Singapore Eyes Quarantine-Free Travel in September

The Lion City’s partial reopening to the world hinges on reaching a vaccination threshold of 80 percent.

Heritage shophouses along Keong Saik Road in Singapore. (Photo: Kharl Anthony Paica/Unsplash)

There’s some good news for Singaporeans aching to go abroad after more than a year of sweeping travel restrictions: the government has set out a timeline for reopening the city-state’s borders. Finance Minister Lawrence Wong told Parliament yesterday that Singapore would begin to allow quarantine-free travel as soon as September and establish corridors with other countries or regions where Covid-19 is under control. Fully vaccinated returning residents may be able to skip the mandatory 14 days of self-isolation in a hotel, or, should the risk level of the countries visited be higher, spend just seven days quarantining at home.

Naturally, the country’s broader reopening will be dependent on overall vaccination levels. Singapore is aiming to have 80 percent of its population fully inoculated by September, with two-thirds of residents immunized by August 9. After that date, the government is set to review the Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) measures now in place, but Wong stressed that restrictions will be eased only for vaccinated residents, as they will be much better protected against the effects of the virus. “If you want to go out to dine in the restaurant or work out in the gym, you have to be fully vaccinated,” he said.

Singapore is one of the few countries in the Asia-Pacific region that are on track to reach herd immunity this year. As of July 24, more than 4,230,000 people, or 74 percent of the population, have received at least one dose of a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine; about 49 percent have been fully inoculated so far. In addition, 67,000 residents have opted for the Sinovac jab, which is available at certain private clinics but not yet approved by health regulators nor counted in the national vaccination tally.

In a separate speech, Singaporean Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said the current social distancing curbs did not affect the government’s roadmap to treat Covid-19 as an endemic disease like the seasonal flu. He explained that living with Covid-19 was “the only way for Singaporeans to regain our lives and livelihoods, and for Singapore to reconnect with the world again.”

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