Singapore will remove most travel restrictions in a determined move to rebuild the economy, with ART on arrival, Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL) and daily arrival quotas being the items to be struck off border regulations from March 31.
All Covid-19 vaccinated travellers to Singapore, including children aged 12 and below, will no longer be required to take an antigen rapid test (ART) within 24 hours of arrival from 23.59 on March 31.
VTL flights will be retired along with daily arrival quotas, while travellers will no longer need to apply for a vaccinated entry pass.
However, pre-departure tests taken two or three days prior to departure for Singapore will be retained for the time being, and travellers will still need to obtain a negative test result to fly.
The government will monitor the situation over the coming weeks, and changes will be made accordingly.
Separately, non-fully vaccinated long-term pass holders and short-term visitors aged 13 and above are generally not allowed to enter Singapore. Exemptions will be made for long-term pass holders who are medically ineligible for vaccines, long-term pass holders aged 13 to 17, and long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with other valid entry approvals.
Such visitors must take a pre-departure test within two days before departure for Singapore, undergo a seven-day stay-home notice (SHN) quarantine, and take a PCR test at the end of their SHN period.
Singapore’s Multi-Ministry Taskforce also announced several other changes impacting air and airport crew.
Air crew will also be allowed to resume normal activities in Singapore or overseas. They will be subject to similar testing requirements as vaccinated travellers.
Airport workers will only need to put on surgical masks, except for those in higher-risk roles who will be required to wear face shields and gloves. They will no longer be required to undergo regular Covid-19 testings.
Singapore’s airport will no longer be segregated into zones, allowing travellers to move freely in the transit area.
Social restrictions will also be eased from March 29, facilitating tourist activities. This includes expanding group size and dining out limits from five to 10, removal of mandatory mask-wearing in outdoor settings, removal of restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol after 22.30, resumption of live performances at all venues, and expansion of capacity limits for larger events and settings, with more than 1,000 attendees, to 75 per cent.
However, it is still mandatory to mask up indoors.
Speaking at a press conference, health Minister Ong Ye Kung, who co-chairs Singapore’s Multi-Ministry Taskforce, said: “Today’s announcement marks a pivoting, not a dismantling of our Covid-19-related measures. We cannot abruptly dismantle all our measures because that means letting down our guard, and that will result in the virus coming back to impact us and hurt us.”
The authorities are considering the safe resumption of nightlife businesses, such as bars and discotheques, stated the Ministry of Health.
MICE stakeholders have warmly welcomed the lifting of travel restrictions and venue capacity increases.
Richard Ireland, president, Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers, commented that the announcement was timely, and the association will “work closely with the industry and government” to help boost Singapore’s profile as the “world’s leading destination for safe international MICE events”.
Elaine Chia, APAC CEO of Comexposium, added: “We are delighted to hear that Singapore is taking the next step in its progressive approach to reopening, proving that international MICE events can be held safely without compromising participant experience. The move bodes well for our upcoming events in the year ahead. Global travel restrictions have severely impacted the MICE business, but given the recent relaxations, we are confidently hopeful that we will see visitor numbers to our various events recover to pre-pandemic levels soon.”
“The MICE industry has seen a clear and increasing demand for in-person interaction to resume in a post-pandemic environment. Displaying a strong commitment towards reopening our borders and easing our restrictions are essential steps for us to rebuild confidence among global business communities in our ability to convene international audiences safely for immersive and engaging event experiences,” Jean-Francois Quetin, group CEO of Constellar, said.