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All eyes on Singapore’s reopening as first travellers from Germany, Brunei are approved

These travellers, including tourists, will no longer be required to serve the two-week quarantine period put in place since last year, but will instead be regularly tested and will only be allowed on specific flights.

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Singapore — Other nations are looking to Singapore’s reopening as it pivots from a Covid-zero policy in dealing with the pandemic to treating infections as endemic, one of the first countries to adopt this strategy.

As the country reached an 80 per cent vaccination rate last weekend, Singapore is preparing to reopen, beginning with vaccinated travellers from Germany and Brunei receiving approval on Thursday (Sept 2) under a new programme. 

Travellers being allowed to enter Singapore means a lot to the country’s tourism industry, among the hardest hit since the Covid-19 pandemic began early last year.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), 735 travellers from Germany received travel passes via the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL). Among them are 301 short-term visitors and 434 long-term pass holders. They will start arriving next Wednesday (Sept 7).

And from Brunei, twenty travellers have been approved, 18 short-term visitors and two long-term pass holders. They are arriving in Singapore beginning from Sept 8.

These travellers, including tourists, will no longer be required to serve the two-week quarantine period put in place since last year, but will instead be regularly tested and will only be allowed on specific flights.

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Other countries may be taking cues from Singapore’s reopening.

A Sept 1 Reuters report quotes infectious diseases physician and microbiologist at Canberra Hospital, Peter Collignon, as calling Singapore “a good example for Australia to pay attention to” due to the similarity in situations.

“We need to open up, and we need to do it in a way that Covid-19 is going to become endemic,” said Dr Collignon, adding to the importance of getting vaccines to as many people as possible.

In an opinion piece for the New Zealand website Stuff, Daniel Dunkley wrote that New Zealand “should be able to watch and learn” from Singapore. 

“Though every nation’s Covid battle is different, the pathway outlined by Singapore should offer some lessons for other zero-Covid countries across APAC, namely Australia and New Zealand,” he wrote.

New Zealand’s vaccination rate has not yet reached 25 per cent of the population, and Mr Dunkley writes that experts, including a professor of epidemiology at the University of Auckland, have argued that the government should aim for getting 90 per cent of the population vaccinated.

“Following a slow start, it will take patience, and a bit of luck with this outbreak to build up New Zealand’s defences. 

But eventually our leaders will have to ponder a similar path to Singapore. The Government will hope that when the time comes, it can manage the situation from a position of strength,” he wrote, adding, “A difficult road lies ahead. But hopefully, when the time comes for New Zealand to ‘change gear’, we look a lot more like Singapore than other countries.”

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/TISG

Read also: Lawrence Wong: Quarantine-free travel, loosened restrictions lie ahead

Lawrence Wong: Quarantine-free travel, loosened restrictions lie ahead

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