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Covid-19: Those fully vaccinated could be allowed to travel with fewer curbs, gather in larger groups, attend mass events

SINGAPORE — Once a larger proportion of the population here are inoculated against Covid-19, those who have been fully vaccinated may see less strict infection control measures when travelling and be allowed to engage in a greater range of activities, such as gathering in larger groups and attending mass events.

People walking along the transit hall at Changi International Airport in Singapore in January 2021.

People walking along the transit hall at Changi International Airport in Singapore in January 2021.

  • The Government is working on “potentially revised public health guidelines” for vaccinated persons
  • Returning travellers may either serve a shortened stay-home notice or have it replaced with more frequent testing
  • Gatherings involving just vaccinated persons could be allowed to have larger group sizes 
  • More details on these will be announced later 

 

SINGAPORE — Once a larger proportion of the population here are inoculated against Covid-19, those who have been fully vaccinated may see less strict infection control measures when travelling and be allowed to engage in a greater range of activities, such as gathering in larger groups and attending mass events.

Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the Government’s Covid-19 task force, said at a press conference on Thursday (June 24) that the task force is working on the “potentially revised public health guidelines” that would apply to vaccinated persons and will announce them when ready.

For instance, for residents coming back from travels, they may either serve a shortened stay-home notice or have it waived and replaced with more frequent testing, depending on the country the person visited.

Mr Wong also said that the mid-July timeline previously announced for Singapore’s next stage of reopening during its heightened alert phase remains.

“As we continue to ramp up our vaccination, over the next few weeks, we will also plan on making several immediate moves. First is the next stage of our reopening specifically to move from two persons to five persons for higher-risk settings like dining (out).”

For other activities or events, there is the possibility of allowing gatherings involving just vaccinated persons to have larger group sizes and also relax safe distancing rules in such settings, because only vaccinated persons are involved, Mr Wong added.

This could apply to a whole range of different settings including religious services, concerts and sporting events.

Elaborating on the travelling concessions, task force co-chair and Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong said that the Government has to bear in mind that it is not just Singapore’s own vaccination rate that matters.

The Government has to consider “several factors” and will have to take a differentiated approach on the different countries.

“It is also important to take a look at countries where we have this travelling arrangement with. If they have a very high vaccination rate, of course, it gives us greater confidence to open up travel channels with them if their cases are low and they are able to control the infection.

“But if their vaccination coverage is low and their cases are still rising very rapidly, even if we have a very high vaccination rate, we need to continue to be careful in allowing travellers from that particular destination.

“So, it's a multi-faceted approach, not just a single factor,” he said.

FLOW OF MIGRANT WORKERS

With expanded vaccination and regular testing of workers in higher-risk settings, the Government will also start allowing more workers, in particular, migrant workers and migrant domestic workers to enter Singapore.

Mr Gan said: “This will ease the immense pressure our companies have been under since the start of the pandemic and allow stalled projects to restart, family members to reunite and their migrant domestic workers to join them.”

Asked if there will be any precautions taken or measures put in place in allowing these migrant workers into Singapore to prevent a spike in Covid-19 cases, Mr Gan said that the Ministry of Manpower, together with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and various other ministries, are working together to continue to strengthen precautionary measures with regard to these workers — at the entry point as they enter Singapore, the process of the stay-home notice that they serve as well as safety precautions at the dormitory and their workplaces.

“We continue to enhance these measures to ensure they are able to arrive safely, stay in a dormitory and even in the community — as some of them stay in the community — safely, and they are able to go back to work in a safe way.” 

Mr Gan added that as the vaccination rates in source countries go up and if they are able to continue to control and manage their infections in these countries, the Government will also be able to increase the number of migrant workers who are allowed to enter Singapore. 

“So we are also working with the source countries to introduce measures at the source country level to prevent the importation of Covid-19 cases. 

“I think we need to take a multi-pronged approach to ensure that we are able to open the borders for more migrant workers to arrive safely, and this is very critical for our economic activities to resume,” he said.

On how will households with unvaccinated members live in the “new normal” and whether these unvaccinated individuals will be at a disadvantage, task force co-chair and Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said that from a public health point of view, “it will make sense to start to have some differentiation”.

“We will have to work out some form of norms where certain activities, if you are vaccinated, you can take part. If you're not, maybe you need a test," he added.

"And other travel benefits as well, if you are vaccinated, we know that more likely you're protected, you're not likely to be infected and pass an infection to others.”

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus MOH travel vaccination stay-home notice Migrant Workers

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