SINGAPORE, July 17 — Travellers to Singapore who have come from or have transited through Australia, Japan and Hong Kong will now have to serve their stay-home notices (SHN) in a dedicated facility such as a hotel, instead of their own homes.
The new rule will apply to such travellers after 11.59pm on July 19.
Previously, Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders entering Singapore from Australia, Brunei, Hong Kong, Japan, Macao, mainland China, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam could serve out their SHNs in their places of residence.
Speaking at a virtual press conference by the ministerial task force tackling the Covid-19 pandemic today, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said that move was in response to a resurgence of Covid-19 cases in several countries.
“The external environment remains one where the virus is spreading quickly, and even in countries that had controlled the virus successfully before, they are now seeing a resurgence of cases,” said Wong, who is co-chair of the task force.
“So the cases from overseas coming in through our borders represent another risk for us, even as we clear the dormitory cases, and therefore, we are monitoring the situation very carefully.”
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, speaking at the press conference as well, pointed out that many countries such as the United States and Brazil are reporting a surge in confirmed Covid-19 cases, with no signs of slowing down.
“While some countries, including China and New Zealand, have largely managed to bring the outbreak under control, several others are experiencing a resurgence of cases, a few weeks after lifting their strict, social distancing measures,” said Gan who is co-chair of the task force..
The resurgence of these cases was the result of safe management and safe distancing measures not being adhered to, he said.
For example, in South Korea, door-to-door sales resulted in four clusters with over 200 infected cases.
Religious gatherings in the country also contributed to more than 110 confirmed cases recently, said Gan.
In Japan’s capital city of Tokyo, more than 300 cases have been linked to nightlife establishments, he added.
Large school clusters have also emerged in the Australian state of Victoria as students did not practice safe distancing and participated in non-school related social gatherings outside.
In Hong Kong, outbreaks have also occurred at restaurants and cafes as patrons did not put on their masks after completing their meals, said Gan.
“In many regions, lapses in workplace safe management measures, including workers not wearing masks, have resulted in large clusters. I know many Singaporeans and organisations are keen for more flexibility and further relaxation, but from these examples, we know there are settings and activities that are more susceptible to transmission, where there is close and prolonged contact among individuals,” said Gan.
Wong added that Singapore’s border measures are “not cast in stone” and that they will constantly be reviewed and updated based on the situation of various countries.
He noted that globally, the number of Covid-19 cases continue to rise and that there has been a resurgence of cases in some countries.
“So we really need to be vigilant both at our borders, in terms of the measures that we have in place in our borders, as well as within our community to ensure that we control the infection and control the spread of the virus within our community,” he said.
Separately, Wong said that the overall advisory for Singaporeans is to avoid travelling overseas.
When asked if this would apply for the rest of the year, Wong said that “the situation is dynamic” but he did not foresee the advisory changing in the near term.
“Already experts are worried about a major second wave coinciding with the flu season. So it’s unlikely that we will see an improvement in the situation in the near term, which means that our travel advisory position is unlikely to change in the near term as well,” said Wong. — TODAY