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#LoveIsEssential: Will Singapore follow the EU and open its borders to partners separated by Covid-19?

Couples, many of whom have one partner living in Europe, have written letters to government officials, as well as used social media and media outlets to highlight their predicament

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Singapore—The coronavirus pandemic has been difficult all around the world, especially for people who have been separated from their loved ones. However, a group of people have been successful in getting governments to open their borders to let people reunite, asking for travel exemptions for non-married partners to join each other.

These couples, many of whom have one partner living in Europe, have written letters to government officials, as well as used social media and media outlets to highlight their predicament, using hashtags such as “love is essential” and “love is not tourism.”

Switzerland, Denmark, Austria, Germany and France are now among the countries that allow non-married cross-border couples to reunite, within certain restrictions and requirements such as proof of visits or shared residency, visas, etc.

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However, this does not work for everyone, as embassies are not open in many parts of the world, which prevents people from getting visas.

But this has not stopped separated lovers from continuing to fight for their cause. The Love Is Not Tourism Facebook group now has over 20,000 members and Couples Separated by Travel Bans is almost 10,000 strong on Facebook, and many countries have their own specific Love Is Not Tourism pages. Both #LoveIsEssential and #LoveIsNotTourism hashtags have both also trended on Twitter, as even European politicians have used the hashtags to support those behind it.

In Singapore, couples affected by the country’s travel ban have also started a Love Is Not Tourism Singapore page. At the moment, passengers who are not Singaporean nationals, permanent residents or who do not have specific passes related to work or study are not allowed into the country. Approval letters from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Ministry of Education (MOE) and/or the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) must also be presented in many cases.

The only other nationals allowed into Singapore are those from China and Malaysia, under specific conditions.

One Ms Ong has started a petition on change.org, addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ICA, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the Prime Minister’s Office entitled “Love is not tourism, help couples reunite!”

She wrote, “Love is not Tourism, many couples/lovers in long term relationship has been separated during to the pandemic. Though we aren’t married but it should be considered as essential travel for us to see our significant other halves. I have not seen my boyfriend who is residing in Spain since Feb. and i don’t know when it is going to last till. Quarantine is fine by me, taking a swab test for Covid is fine by me as well, just let me into the country. Help couples/lovers reunited!” —/TISG

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