Jun 04, 2020 04:27 AM

China, Singapore Relax Quarantine Rules for Certain Travelers

China and Singapore agreed to exempt certain travellers from mandatory quarantine rules as part of the “fast lane” arrangement.
China and Singapore agreed to exempt certain travellers from mandatory quarantine rules as part of the “fast lane” arrangement.

China and Singapore agreed to “fast lane” rules easing restrictions for approved business and official travelers as part of plans to gradually relax limits on flights and resume trade amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under an agreement effective June 8, travelers from both countries who have obtained approval from authorities will be exempt from rules requiring everyone else to serve quarantine periods of as many as 14 days, the Singapore government said Wednesday.

"This is part of Singapore's gradual reopening of our borders for Singaporeans and residents to conduct essential activities overseas and to allow safe travel for foreigners entering Singapore in limited numbers, with the necessary safeguards in place to ensure public health considerations are addressed," Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a joint statement

The ministries said Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders returning to Singapore from China must monitor their health and comply with prevailing health measures.

Approved travelers must first agree to be tested and bear the costs. If they are found to be infected with Covid-19 upon landing in Singapore or China, they will be hospitalized and will have to pay for their own treatment, according to the agreement.

Initially, the new system will apply only to business and official travel on flights between Singapore and six provinces in China — Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing, Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

Travelers will have to jump through several hoops before boarding a flight. The business organization or government entity sponsoring the trip must apply for approval from authorities on behalf of the traveler. Applications open June 8.

In addition, travelers must submit and adhere to an itinerary. Travelers from China must take a Covid-19 swab test 48 hours before departure and another swab test when they land at Singapore’s Changi Airport.

Upon entry into Singapore, travelers must remain in isolation in accommodations at nonresidential addresses they have sourced themselves and declared for one to two days until the test result is known.

In addition, travelers may not take mass public transport such as trains and buses and must instead use private-hire cars, taxis or transport provided by their employers.

They will also have to download the TraceTogether app for the duration of their stay. If a traveler does not have a TraceTogether-compatible device, the host company or government agency should provide one.

Similar rules will apply to Singapore travelers going to China.

There will also be a limit on the number of people whose trips are approved.

To facilitate immigration clearance on arrival, travelers must show a copy of the letter approving their trip issued by the government authority in China.

China currently allows each Singapore carrier to fly to only one city in China once a week. Singapore Airlines now flies to Shanghai, Scoot to Guangzhou and SilkAir to Chongqing. There are no flights to Beijing.

Similar travel discussions are ongoing between Singapore and other countries including South Korea, New Zealand and Malaysia, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said last week.

Priority for the resumption of business travel will go to essential business people, technical personnel for critical operations and government officials, the minister said Wednesday in a Facebook post.

The “fast lane” arrangement represents “some light at the end of the tunnel,” though it will be a long time before life returns to near normal, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said Wednesday in another Facebook post.

“However, recreational travel will have to take a back seat for now,” he said.

This story was first published in The Strait Times.

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