SINGAPORE – Seven countries – Bulgaria, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway and Poland – will be placed in a higher-risk category for travel from 11.59pm on Dec 6, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Friday (Dec 3).
MOH added that from 11.59 pm on Dec 4, all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with recent travel history to Ghana, Malawi and Nigeria within the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter, transfer or transit through Singapore.
The tighter measures are in response to the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
MOH in a statement said: “This restriction will apply to those who have obtained prior approval for entry into Singapore. We will apply these restrictions for four weeks in the first instance, after which we will review and extend them if necessary.”
Also, from 11.59pm on Dec 6, all travellers on vaccinated travel lanes (VTL) will be put on a daily testing regime over seven days using antigen rapid tests (ARTs).
The tests are all self-administered, and travellers will be required to submit the results of their self-administered ART online using a link that will be sent to them via their declared contact details after arrival in Singapore.
However, MOH added that on the third and seventh day, the tests will have to be done under supervision at a combined test centre (CTC) or quick test centre (QTC).
During this seven-day period, other than on days when they go out for their supervised tests, these travellers must test negative on their self-administered ART before going out for activities on that day.
This new enhanced protocol will also apply to travellers arriving from Malaysia via the land VTL from 11.59pm on Dec 6.
“The additional measures will further enhance the current testing protocols for (the land VTL), which include a pre-departure test and an on-arrival ART,” said MOH.
The Omicron variant was first identified by South Africa last week, and has been identified in dozens of countries since.
MOH reported on Thursday that two imported Covid-19 cases have tested positive for the variant. Both cases were isolated upon arrival in Singapore on Wednesday, and had no interaction with anyone in the community.
The VTL scheme lets vaccinated travellers from selected countries enter Singapore without quarantine. These travellers will have to take Covid-19 swab tests and fly in on designated flights, among other requirements.
A new set of tightened border restrictions kicked in at 11.59pm on Thursday. The multi-ministry Covid-19 task force had said these restrictions will help to reduce the risk of importation of the Omicron variant, and buy time for Singapore to learn more about the virus.
First, air travellers arriving on the quarantine-free VTL scheme will have to undergo supervised, self-administered ARTs at a QTC on day three and day seven of their arrival.
Currently, these travellers are allowed to enter without having to undergo quarantine under the scheme, and have to take a Covid-19 swab test only prior to their departure for Singapore, and after arrival here.
Second, all air travellers entering, transferring or transiting through Singapore must have tested negative in a pre-departure test within two days of leaving for Singapore.
Currently, travellers from Hong Kong, Macau, China and Taiwan are not required to take pre-departure tests, and need to take a Covid-19 swab test only upon arrival.
These places are in Category I of MOH’s risk classification framework, which means they have the lowest risk of Covid-19 infections.
Third, all travellers must take a Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on arrival.
This will affect non-VTL travellers entering Singapore who are not from Hong Kong, Macau, China and Taiwan. Currently, they do not have to take a test upon arrival, but have to be tested before the end of their stay-home notice period.
Travellers must self-isolate at home, in a hotel room or at a designated stay-home notice facility – depending on where they came from – while waiting for their on-arrival test result.