Singapore’s COVID-19 multi-ministry task force announced on Friday that the country will deny entry or transit of visitors with recent travel history to Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The travel ban will begin on May 2 and covers all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors who have been in or transited any of the four nations during the last 14 days. Those who have obtained prior entry approval from Singapore authorities will not be exempted from these travel restrictions, said co-chair of the task force Lawrence Wong.

The ban will not apply to returning Singaporeans and permanent residents who have been to these countries. They will still be able to enter Singapore, said Mr Wong, who was speaking at a virtual press conference.

Arrivals with recent travel history to the four countries, who are serving a 14-day stay-home notice in Singapore as of May 3, will be required to extended by another seven days at dedicated stay-home facilities.  They will be required to take three COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. The first will be taken on arrival into Singapore, another on the 14th day of their stay-home notice, and the last before the end of their 21-day notice.

This decision was taken in view of the “deterioration” in the COVID-19 situation in India, with the virus spreading beyond India to its surrounding countries, said Mr Wong. India is currently registering over 300,000 new cases daily. 

Additionally, measures for travellers from Thailand will also be tightened. Staring May 3, all travellers entering Singapore with travel history to Thailand in the past 14 days will be required to serve a 14-day stay-home notice at a dedicated facility. They will no longer be permitted to opt out of serving it at dedicated SHN facilities, even if they obtained a prior approval to do so.

Thailand is currently suffering a third wave of COVID-19 cases, reporting around 2,000 new daily cases. The increase in numbers has prompted lockdowns in Bangkok and other areas.

Travellers from Fiji and Vietnam are still permitted to apply to opt out of dedicated SHN facilities and serve their 14-day SHN at their place of residence if they fulfil certain criteria, said MOH.

Mr Wong says Singapore will maintain its current conditions for suspension of the travel bubble with Hong Kong, responding to a question on whether the detection of a cluster of corona virus cases linked to Tan Tock Seng Hospital would affect the relaunch of the travel bubble, scheduled for May 26.

This is the second attempt of both cities trying to launch a travel bubble. The travel bubble was originally scheduled for November last year but was delayed after a spike in COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong. 

“We just have to be mentally prepared that this is not a situation where new initiatives are rolled out and then they will continue permanently without any potential for disruption, because the situation is so fluid,” Mr Wong said.


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