Singapore is adding the United States and seven other countries to its list of places where two-way travel for fully vaccinated people can occur without needing to quarantine, officials announced on Saturday, as the Southeast Asian country begins to cautiously reopen.
“We are charting a course for the new normal, toward living with Covid-19,” S. Iswaran, the transportation minister for Singapore, said in a post on Facebook. “This is how we must move forward to protect both our lives and livelihoods, to learn to live with the virus, and to journey toward a Covid-resilient nation.”
In addition to the United States, the new countries in this arrangement are Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Britain, according to Mr. Iswaran. Singapore already announced similar arrangements with South Korea, Brunei and Germany.
Under the plan, known as Vaccinated Travel Lanes, fully vaccinated people traveling between Singapore and those countries will subject only to PCR tests for the coronavirus instead of quarantining, according to the transportation ministry. Those travelers will also have no restrictions on their purpose of travel and will not be required to have a controlled itinerary or sponsorship, the ministry said.
The expanded travel plan will start on Tuesday, according to the ministry.
Email messages to the ministry seeking comment were not immediately returned.
The Vaccinated Travel Lanes are one of the biggest reopening steps being taken by Singapore, a major economic and transportation hub, after early successes in thwarting the coronavirus and then a sharp setback in controlling its spread.
Singapore was widely considered a success story in its initial handling of the pandemic, closing its borders, testing and tracing aggressively, and ordering vaccines early.
Singapore has now fully inoculated 83 percent of its population, and a top politician told the public in August that an 80 percent vaccination rate was the criterion for a phased reopening.
But in September, with cases doubling every eight to 10 days, the government reinstated restrictions on gatherings. The United States said its citizens should reconsider travel to the country, emergency departments in several Singapore hospitals were crowded, and people were once again told to work from home.
The country’s experience has become a sobering case study for other nations pursuing reopening strategies without having had to deal with large outbreaks in the pandemic. For Singapore residents, there were nagging questions about what it would take to reopen if vaccines were not enough.
For many, the repeated tweaks to the restrictions have taken a toll. The number of suicides in 2020 was the highest since 2012, a trend that some mental health experts have attributed to the pandemic.
Source From Nytimes