Singapore plans to open “vaccinated travel lanes” to more countries, but that doesn’t mean the countries are at significantly higher risk, Transport Minister S Easwaran told CNBC on Monday. ..
The city announced last week that it would introduce more travel lanes for vaccinated travelers from South Korea, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. This was in addition to a similar arrangement between Germany and Brunei that began in September.
The initiative allows vaccinated people to travel without quarantine, but travelers will have to undergo a COVID-19 test to ensure they are not infected with the virus before entering the country.
He said Singapore would next consider arranging similar visits to Australia, New Zealand, Japan and “many other countries” in the region.
resumption of foreign travel
Singapore’s trade minister Easwaran said the country’s current initiatives with Germany and Brunei picked up only two cases of infected travelers. Of the 3,000 people who entered Singapore through the so-called VTL in the first month. ..
“Therefore, when combined with the vaccination requirements, the actual vaccination lanes and cross-border flows that we are promoting do not increase the risk that we are taking as a country. Hmm… He told CNBC. Squabox Asia. “
Easwaran responded to criticism online that the city-state’s plan to resume international travel appears to be in conflict with the country’s decision to impose some new restrictions.
Singapore announced on Saturday that it would tighten some COVID restrictions aimed at protecting the elderly and vulnerable groups such as those without vaccination. Those who have not been vaccinated will not be able to enter, and those who have been vaccinated will also be allowed a maximum of 2 people.
The minister has shown that VTL has invaded the country with only a limited number of infected cases, but community infections are increasing very rapidly, with a “significant proportion” through community activities. He said it was spreading.
It is necessary to limit some of these activities “on a risk assessment basis” while continuing to carry out economic and normal activities “as much as possible” while also imposing certain “significant constraints”. Easwaran said.
As of 9 October, 83% of the population has completed two doses of the COVID vaccine.
However, after some restrictions were eased, the number of cases began to skyrocket, breaking the daily high last week to over 3,000.
Last month, Singapore authorities strengthened COVID measures to slow community transmission and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. The country has also started encouraging people infected with Covid who show mild symptoms to self-quarantine when possible.
Singapore aims to regain its status as global aviation hub
Easwaran said the launch of the vaccination travel lane is part of an effort to re-establish the city-state as an international aviation hub.
Before the pandemic, Singapore’s Changi Airport was the busiest airport in the world handling 68.3 million passengers in 2019. However, according to local media, in 2020 it fell by more than 80% to just 11.8 million passengers.
“What we are trying to do with countries in North America, Europe and Asia is through vaccination travel lanes, it is a way to open up international aviation in a safe way and as a way to regain and rebuild Singapore’s position. Is. It’s designed to emphasize exactly what you’re looking for. It is an international aviation hub. “
Aviation stocks rose on Monday morning on the news of the expansion of the conditional lane scheme. Singapore Airlines grew by 7.8% and SATS (providing ground handling and in-flight meal services) grew 5.04%.
Till Sunday, the total number of infected people was 126,966 and 162 people had died. However, according to the Ministry of Health, 98.5% of the infected people have been asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic in the last 28 days.