Travel

First look: Singapore hints at September’s quarantine-free travel list with initial relaxations

The latest update of quarantine relaxations for those entering Singapore from 21 August gives us our first hint on which countries could make the 'quarantine-free' list from September.

Singapore’s Multi-Ministry Taskforce has revealed details of some initial quarantine relaxations for travellers arriving in Singapore from a list of safe countries, effective from 21st August 2021, which will allow fully vaccinated individuals to serve their 14-day SHN period at their place of residence, rather than in a hotel.

From 20th August 2021 at 23:59 hours (i.e. effectively from 21st August 2021), all fully vaccinated travellers arriving from the following countries can opt to serve their 14-day SHN at their place of residence:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Norway
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland

They can also choose other suitable accommodation (e.g. a hotel), if they fulfil certain criteria.

This applies to Singapore residents and nationals of other countries eligible to enter for business or leisure purposes, provided they have remained solely within the newly approved countries for the last 21 consecutive days.

Fully vaccinated? This status is applicable to those who have received the full regimen of the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty, Moderna or any WHO EUL Vaccine at least 14 days before arrival in Singapore.

This includes Sinovac-Coronavc, Sinopharm and AstraZeneca vaccines.

Eligible travellers with travel history to the countries listed above who are already in Singapore and have yet to exit their hotel SHN by 20th August 2021 at 23:59 may also apply to serve the remainder of their SHN at their place of residence, or choice of accommodation.

Conditions

Here’s how the Government has outlined the conditions for serving your 14-day SHN period at your place of residence:

Applications will be considered if the vaccinated traveller has fulfilled the following criteria:

  • Remained in the above-mentioned countries, or in Brunei, Hong Kong, Macao, Mainland China, New Zealand or Taiwan in the last consecutive 21 days prior to arriving in Singapore; and
  • Are occupying their respective places of residence or other suitable accommodation alone, or only with household members who are also vaccinated persons serving SHN with the same travel history and duration of SHN.

For Singapore Citizens (SCs) and Permanent Residents (PRs), the application must be made three days prior to arrival via the SafeTravel website.

Travellers who are not SCs or PRs may apply to opt out as part of the entry application process from 20th August 2021, 2359 hrs onwards.

  • All travellers must present the approval to opt out upon arrival in Singapore.
  • All travellers who successfully opt out must remain in their declared place of residence/accommodation at all times and are required to don an electronic monitoring device throughout their SHN period.
  • Action will be taken against those who breach the requirements of the SHN or make false declarations.
  • Travellers will also be required to utilise specially designated transport services to and from their place of residence and bear the costs for these transport arrangements.

Transport is estimated to cost about $200-220 in total for travel from checkpoint to place of residence including a roundtrip for COVID-19 testing before the end of the SHN period.

It’s a ‘first look’

This isn’t terribly exciting news at this stage.

Not all of these countries are accepting Singapore residents to enter quarantine-free, making them useless options (for the time being) when it comes to leisure trips, even if you’re willing (and able) to spend 14 days in self-isolation at home when you get back.

Here’s the list if you consider the possibility of two-way travel:

  • Austria
  • Germany
  • Switzerland

These countries all offer direct flights to or from Singapore, or the option to transit (in the case of Austria) in a low-risk country en-route.

You can currently fly to and from Germany (Frankfurt) with Singapore Airlines or Lufthansa. Switzerland (Zurich) is served by Singapore Airlines and Swiss. Plentiful connections can then take you to and from Austrian cities, from either Germany or Switzerland.

It’s also possible to cross the land border between these countries by road or rail.

Where else?

Italy is also accepting Singapore residents, though a mandatory 10-day arrival quarantine period applies.

Italy still imposes quarantine on arrivals from Singapore, but for how long? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Italy already allows fully vaccinated residents from Japan, Canada, the USA and Israel to forgo this quarantine period.

Those countries all have much higher COVID-19 infection rates compared to Singapore, so it’s not out of the question for fully vaccinated Singapore residents to be added to the quarantine-free list in due course (e.g. by September), if the right negotiations happen.

Don’t discount Canada of course! Borders there are set to open to all fully vaccinated international visitors from 7th September 2021, roughly in line with an early September quarantine lifting in Singapore.

Canada could be a two-way travel option just a month from now, based on its government plans. (Photo: Mike Benna)

Canada has one of the lowest rates of new COVID-19 infection among G7 nations and has a high and increasing vaccination level, 56% fully vaccinated at the time of writing, quite comparable to Singapore.

Currently a connection in Hong Kong or Japan would be required to fly between Singapore and Canada, though with Hong Kong already on the Lion City’s “safe+” list (7 days home SHN category), we doubt the Singapore government will block a transit option there.

Minimum stay?

The Singapore government statement says you must have spent 21 days in the countries specified above prior to arriving in Singapore, suggesting it is written for travellers and residents already overseas and returning, rather than residents taking a shorter leisure trip.

We’ll clarify this once we get more details, but rest assured – we don’t expect you’ll be forced to take a minimum three-week vacation to qualify!

More concessions to come

Zero quarantine is what we’re all waiting for, and so far – this is not it.

The ability for fully vaccinated travellers to return to (or travel to) Singapore with no quarantine is in the pipeline though, and should kick in from September this year, once the country enters its ‘endemic COVID’ phase.

That will come once a sufficient vaccination level has been achieved across the general population.

Potential SHN requirements for vaccinated travellers

Category
Fully vaccinated

Partially vaccinated /
Unvaccinated
  High Risk 14 days SHN in hotel 14 days SHN in hotel
  Medium+ Risk 14 days SHN at home
  Medium Risk 7 days SHN at home
  Low Risk No SHN

As of 4th August 2021, 65% of the Singapore population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, however the Government is targeting (and on course to achieve) an 80% protection level from September 2021, in order to further ease travel restrictions.

Whether all of the countries on today’s list make it into the zero-quarantine category or not is unclear at this stage, and we expect some of them may still fall into a 7-day or 14-day home isolation option (Germany and Canada were our original two predictions for zero quarantine).

Quarantine-free travel to and from Europe and North America is still on the horizon. (Photo: High Tech Flight)

The Multi-Ministry Taskforce said during the press conference today that they will announce replacing SHN with “frequent testing” for arrivals from specific countries “in due course”.

Therefore, watch this space – the most interesting list is still to come in the weeks ahead.


 

 

Summary

It’s great to get what we can probably all agree is a ‘first look’ at the list of countries likely to make it onto the two-way quarantine-free travel list come September this year.

14 days remains a long time, however we can see this as ‘Phase 1’ of the border reopening plan, and that gives us a great insight to the list of countries we are likely to see on the zero quarantine list from next month.

The Government also intends to offer a 7-day SHN at home option for some locations once the final list is announced, a category already applicable to arrivals from Hong Kong, Macau and Mainland China.

In the worst case scenario, we could then see low-COVID rate countries like Germany and Canada as some of the few zero-quarantine options, while the others announced today potentially fall into a ‘medium-risk’ 7-day SHN at home window.

More to come in the days and weeks ahead, as we all anticipate some travel freedom once again!

(Cover Photo: Hasmik-Ghazaryan-Olson)

8 comments

  1. Great news and great Jon Andrew. Hopefully we can travel as vaccinated tourist from Switzerland to Singapore in September

  2. I thought current arrivals from China, Taiwan are not required to serve quarantine? Assuming I can travel to China, shouldn’t I be exempted from SHN?

    1. Yes you are. This article is about predicting two-way quarantine-free travel options when the further SHN relaxations are announced for fully vaccinated travellers from September.

  3. Good news at last thanks for the update. Do you think the UK will make it to the category for fully vaccinated to come back to Singapore with 7 or 14 days SHN in residence in September? I know it won’t be SHN free with the UK case numbers but I am hoping for something in between

    1. It’s really hard to predict because we don’t know the exact criteria the SG Govt is using and how much weight they are giving to each element (e.g. vaccination % / case average / medical capabilities, etc…).

      Sweden didn’t get included on this 14-day home SHN list, for example, even though it has lower cases per 100,000 and higher vaccination than Norway.

      Luxembourg was also skipped, even though it has lower cases per 100,000 than Switzerland (and again, higher vaccination!).

      The UK is an important market for Singapore to open up to and of course has high vaccination, but it’s hard to see it get anything better than 14 days home SHN for fully vaxxed by early September unless cases drop significantly.

      Anything can happen though! Fingers crossed for you.

  4. G7 is an awful indicator especially none of the countries handled covid well, including UK and Canada. Anyhow, cases are rising (thanks Delta) and its likely quarantine free travel will be given to islands like HK and Macau first b4 being extended to any of the countries mentioned above.

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