Singapore reopens quarantine-free travel as Omicron cases dip

Singapore’s health ministry announced on Thursday that the country will resume quarantine-free travel to Hong Kong, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates this month, following a dip in coronavirus cases.

In addition, the city-state will reinstate and raise quotas under its vaccinated travel programme, which were restricted in December to address the Omicron variant.

Singapore will simplify border controls for all travellers and eliminate the need for entry authorisation for qualifying citizens with long-term passes, according to the ministry, making it easier for expats to travel.

However, some foreign workers with other permissions, such as those operating in the construction and manufacturing industries, will still require entry approval.

According to authorities, the government plans to eliminate vaccinated travel lanes for travellers from designated countries in the future, allowing all vaccinated visitors to enter without quarantine.

Australia, India, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, and the United States are among the countries participating in the vaccinated travel lane initiative. The new Hong Kong lane is a one-way street.

On Tuesday, Singapore reported a new high of 19,179 local coronavirus infections, however the majority of the cases were mild or had no symptoms. The administration stated that the caseload was within expectations and that the healthcare system’s overall status remained stable.

According to Gan Kim Yong, minister of trade and industry, Singapore could witness 15,000 to 20,000 COVID-19 daily cases till the current Omicron wave passes in a few weeks.

The government announced a slew of amendments to local COVID-19 measures, including loosening requirements for confirmed patients’ close contacts, eliminating routine testing for workers in some industries, and allowing more interactions at homes and workplaces.

When the Omicron wave passes, Singapore will relax social and travel restrictions, according to Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, who also stated that the new local laws on testing and isolation put a greater emphasis on human responsibility rather than legal duties.

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