The COVID-19 pandemic throws everyone in uncertain times — especially for those who wish or need to travel. Who can get in and out of Singapore? What are the different protocols and health requirements? What are Singapore’s air travel plans in the future?
Let’s answer each of these questions.
1. Who Can Enter and Leave Singapore?
Singapore still doesn’t allow the majority of passengers to get inside the country, except for a few. One of the best places to know if you can enter Singapore is the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website.
You may also refer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to it, short-term visitors may enter if they already have an air travel pass (ATP) open for residents in the following countries:
- Brunei Darussalam
- Mainland China
- New Zealand
Returning Singapore residents, students, and work pass holders need to pass through their respective lanes, although they may no longer need to present an ATP.
The ATP helps facilitate the travel process of both leisure and business travellers in the country. It guarantees that the individual comes from the point of departure and didn’t go through any layovers or transits in other places.
However, even with the ATP, the individuals still need to subject themselves to COVID-19 testing and stay in the declared non-residential facility until the results are negative. The ATP is also valid for only 7 days, but the person may extend it.
Note: The rules may change without earlier notice, so if you’re thinking of coming here, check the two websites mentioned.
2. Where Can You Stay in Singapore?
Some accommodation options in Singapore are stay-at-home-notice (SHN) dedicated facilities. These are for people who need to quarantine for a certain period, depending on factors. Take, for example, an Australian.
Based on the safe-travel rules of the country, those who will come from Australia can apply for an ATP. But if this individual has travelled to places where the number of COVID-19 cases is high like in South Africa, they may need to be quarantined for 14 days. Otherwise, they stay in this facility for 7 days until their COVID-19 test comes out.
After Singapore moved to phase 3 after its circuit breaker, though, more hotels are open. Now, travellers allowed to enter here will then have to move to a non-SHN-dedicated facility. These include hotels near Changi Airport.
But they still need to observe minimum health safety protocols. All staff members and even guests need to wear face masks. Everyone should have easy access to alcohol-based hand sanitisers, alcohol, and soap. Rooms and common areas need to be disinfected and cleaned regularly. All must practise social distancing.
3. What Are the Changes in the Airport?
Changi Airport has implemented a lot of changes to enhance health and safety for everyone without compromising efficiency and speed of service, which it is highly known for.
One of its core principles is contactless transactions. Thus, around the airport are different kiosks equipped with sensors to obtain biometrics and compare the data with those in the travel documents like passports. Guests can also drop their luggage in the check-in kiosks with proximity sensors.
Singapore has invested heavily in automation over the years, and this proves to be extremely helpful in this pandemic. Autonomous cleaning equipment can now disinfect large floor areas and include HEPA filters to catch debris like dust and pollen while vacuuming.
(Note: Robots are also cleaning railway stations, and they can cover wide surfaces up to three times faster than manual cleaning.)
The airport is also conducting trials. One of these is the breathalyser test, where the staff uses breathalysers to collect samples. If they turn out to be just as accurate as but much faster than the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which experts consider the gold standard, the airport can roll it out once they’re ready to accept more international travellers.
4. What Are the Future Plans of Singapore in Air Travel?
Singapore is planning to create travel bubbles, which are agreements between another country. Under this setup, individuals may enter and leave each other’s nations with the least hassle. For instance, they can visit the city-state without having to go through quarantine or stay in an SHN-dedicated facility.
Currently, it is in talks with Australia and New Zealand, but since the plans are preliminary, many can still change.
Singapore is also one of the firsts to allow passengers with an IATA health passport until the association’s Travel Pass Initiative. It uses a digital platform that presents the accurate health status of the holder. Depending on the data, the individual may no longer have to quarantine upon reaching their destination.
Although Singapore is doing great in managing the pandemic, COVID-19 is still around. Until then, the country may limit who can come in.