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S Iswaran: Singapore’s reopening will be an “evolutionary process rather than a revolutionary one”

Vaccines, robust testing regime and safe management measures needed

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Singapore—In an interview for CNBC’s Squawk Box Asia on Tuesday (Apr 6), Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran said that a number of measures, and not just vaccines, are needed for Singapore to open up the economy and let international travellers in.

“The way we see it, this has to be a suite of measures. Vaccinations are essential but they are not silver bullets. We need that to be complemented by a strong, robust testing regime, as well as effective safe management measures.”

His remarks on “Squawk Box Asia”  are part of the World Economic Forum Global Technology Governance Summit.  

This “suite of measures” is vital to Singapore’s progress, in terms of allowing cross-border activity or travels or opening up the economy.

Acknowledging that while vaccines are a high priority on a national scale, he cautioned that reopening would happen as a gradual process and not in one big step, calling it an “evolutionary process” instead of a “revolutionary” one.

The minister said this is probably true throughout the globe, adding, “The way we will go forward … is going to be measured, calibrated steps in terms of facilitating cross-border flows of people.”

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He also talked about the choice the country has made in accepting the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) mobile travel pass starting next month, which is only one among many “vaccine passport” discussed. 

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said that visitors to the country may travel in and out of Singapore when they present certificates that they have got tested, and maybe even vaccinated, via a mobile app.

Other countries such as China and Japan have discussed using digital health certificates for those who have had the Covid-19 vaccine shots for the purpose of international travel.

The US, however, has said it will not be using such a vaccine passport, amid concerns about privacy, even discrimination against those who cannot be or refuse to be vaccinated.

Mr Iswaran said the idea of vaccine passports may be misinterpreted but told CNBC, “The way we look at it is that, at the end of the day, you need an effective vaccination programme, and then we need to develop mutual recognition of those vaccination programmes.”

/TISG

Read also: S Iswaran on pandemic: We’ve made considerable progress because of tremendous sacrifice, hard work

S Iswaran on pandemic: We’ve made considerable progress because of tremendous sacrifice, hard work

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