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S’pore to discuss with US how to reopen borders safely: PM Lee

SINGAPORE — The United States is one of the countries with which Singapore will be pursuing discussions on how to safely reopen borders but this will depend on various factors related to the Covid-19 pandemic, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday (Aug 23).

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (left) and United States vice-president Kamala Harris held a press conference on Aug 23, 2021.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (left) and United States vice-president Kamala Harris held a press conference on Aug 23, 2021.

  • Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said as a hub, Singapore needs to stay connected to the world
  • But any decision to reopen Singapore’s borders with another country depends on the prevalence of Covid-19 in the country, the state of the pandemic, as well as its vaccination progress
  • Mr Lee said the Singapore and US will also be collaborating on how to prepare for future pandemics

 

SINGAPORE — The United States is one of the countries with which Singapore will be pursuing discussions on how to safely reopen borders but this will depend on various factors related to the Covid-19 pandemic, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday (Aug 23).

For instance, some of the factors for consideration would include the “prevalence of Covid-19 in those countries and the state of the pandemic”, as well as its vaccination progress, Mr Lee said at a media conference.

Mr Lee added that the opening of borders also depends on what can be worked out between Singapore and another country so that there will be safety measures in place such as pre-departure testing, vaccination certificates, testing on arrival and quarantining of an individual if necessary.

“It's something which we have strongly in mind because it's important for Singapore, as a hub, to be able to reopen and to operate safely, and for people to travel back and forth to do business, and to keep ourselves connected with the world,” said Mr Lee.

“The US is one of the countries which we will be pursuing these conversations with.”

Mr Lee was speaking during a joint-press conference with US vice-president Kamala Harris. He was responding to a question from a reporter from the New York Times about what are the specific conditions it would take to get a quarantine-free arrangement in Singapore for the US and other countries with high vaccination rates.

In asking his question, the reporter stated that Singapore’s travel restrictions are a “major strain on American businesses, and businesses worldwide”, and noted that Singapore had said that it wants to expand its quarantine-free travel arrangements between countries.

In his response, Mr Lee noted that Singapore has already started such arrangements with Germany and Brunei.

Last Thursday, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore announced that fully vaccinated travellers from Germany and Brunei, as well as all travellers from Hong Kong and Macau, regardless of vaccination status, are no longer required to serve a stay-home notice when they arrive here.

COLLABORATING TO PREVENT FUTURE PANDEMICS

During his opening remarks on Monday, Mr Lee had touched on how Singapore will be collaborating with the US to prepare for other pandemics.

He said this will involve pursuing genome sequencing and epidemic intelligence.

Mr Lee said this will help speed up the identification of Covid-19 variants, as well as emerging disease threats and “augment regional preparedness for current and future pandemics”.

Ms Harris said later that “Singapore's approach to managing the pandemic has been commendable”.

“But we all must do more to not only end the current pandemic, but to invest in what we know will be more,” she said.

Ms Harris added that US President Joe Biden “has been clear” since day one of his term in office about the importance of vaccinating US citizens against Covid-19, and his country’s commitment to being an “arsenal of vaccines for the world”.

This is why, she said, the US has provided “millions of vaccine doses” to countries in Southeast Asia.

“Singapore has been very generous in the way that has contributed to the work that needs to be done in this region and around the world,” said Ms Harris, who arrived in Singapore on Sunday for a three-day visit.

Earlier on Monday, she had called on President Halimah Yacob before her meeting with Mr Lee.

On Tuesday morning, Ms Harris will be giving a speech that will discuss the US' “vision for engagement in the region” and how her country will deliver on it.

Thereafter, she will take part in a roundtable with the business community involving Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong.

Ms Harris will then depart for Vietnam.

Related topics

Lee Hsien Loong Kamala Harris Covid-19 coronavirus vaccination border restrictions

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