Singapore to shut borders to short term visitors from Monday, 11.59pm

Singapore will be closing its borders to all short-term visitors as it ramps up border control measures to conserve resources and to reduce further importation of Covid-19 cases.

From 2359 hours on Mar 23, all short-term visitors will no longer be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore. Where work pass holders are concerned, the Ministry of Manpower will only allow the entry of those providing essential services such as healthcare and transport. Prior to this, all work pass holders already had to gain MOM’s approval before they seek to travel to Singapore. Returning foreign domestic helpers will be considered, particularly if there is a real need to look after the elderly or children.

Prior to this, short-term visitors – except for certain countries such as China – were allowed to come into Singapore, but had to serve a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) notice once they entered the country. On Saturday, 533 short-term visitors arrived in Singapore.

“Resources were being expended to serve and enforce SHNs on them, and if they fell ill, to provide them with medical treatment,” said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a statement on Sunday.

Singapore Citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders returning to Singapore will be issued a two-week SHN, which requires them to stay at home at all times.

Any work pass holder who decides to leave Singapore now will likely not be allowed re-entry, unless they provide essential services.

This comes as the number of Covid-19 cases have been surging globally, with over 260,000 cases in 185 countries and about 11,200 deaths. Nearly 80 per cent of Singapore’s new Covid-19 cases over the last three days were imported as many Singapore residents and long-term pass holders came home.

At a press conference on Sunday morning, Minister Lawrence Wong, who is co-chair of the Multi-Ministry Taskforce on Covid-19, said: “These are significant moves especially for a small open economy like Singapore which has always been connected to the world, but this is an unprecedented crisis. We deliberated over this carefully and the Taskforce has decided we need to put these measures in place in order to keep our borders safe and limit the number of new imported cases, and conserve our resources to focus on returning Singaporeans.”

Mr Wong also said that safe distancing measures – previously announced on Friday – at food & beverage outlets and other establishments will be rolled out nation-wide in the coming days. “There will be enforcement, and there will be consequences for those that do not comply,” he added.

With the latest measures likely to hit the aviation sector even harder, this will be a major consideration when the government rolls out a second package of measures soon to help companies, workers and Singaporeans during the crisis.

Meanwhile, the Singapore-Malaysia Special Working Committee has agreed that Malaysians with Singapore work permits will continue to be able to work in Singapore during this period, with the appropriate accommodation arrangements in place, while goods will continue to flow between the two countries, MOH highlighted in the release.

Source: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/singapore-to-shut-borders-to-short-term-visitors-from-monday-1159pm