SINGAPORE — The move to allow visitors from Brunei and New Zealand to visit Singapore more freely is a step towards reviving Singapore’s aviation sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung on Friday (21 August).
“All in all I think this is a small, cautious step to start to reopen aviation and resuscitate Changi Airport, as well as (Singapore Airlines),” he said during a virtual media doorstop. Ong added that the state of Singapore’s aviation sector also affects its economy.
The multi-ministry COVID-19 taskforce announced earlier Friday that, from 8 September, travellers from Brunei and New Zealand will be able to enter Singapore without having to serve Stay-Home Notices (SHNs).
This is contingent upon such travellers having been in either Brunei or New Zealand for 14 consecutive days prior to their arrival in Singapore. They will also be tested for COVID-19 upon entry and will only be allowed to continue with their activities once they have received a negative result.
“I believe we can strike a good balance between keeping Singapore safe and travellers here safe, as well as reviving the air traffic sector,” said Ong, who noted that both countries had an infection rate of well below 0.1 cases per 100,000 members of the population.
He added that there would be a manageable number of travellers coming in from both countries, with two weekly flights from Brunei that can transport a maximum of 500 passengers, and four weekly flights from New Zealand, which can take a maximum of 1,200 passengers.
“Remember, as a small, open economy, to survive we’ve got to keep our borders open. To earn a living, we’ve got to have connections with the world. And to thrive and prosper, we must be an aviation hub,” said Ong.
While the arrangements with Brunei and New Zealand are currently unilateral, Ong said that this does not preclude the possibility of negotiating reciprocal green lane arrangements with such low-risk countries and even upgrading them to travel bubbles or travel corridors.
“If you think of Singapore, 200 years ago we also unilaterally became a free port. In the early 80s, when we first built Changi Airport’s Terminal 1, we also unilaterally opened up our skies.
“And when we were promoting free trade... we also unilaterally removed most of our tariffs... So it really is an invitation to the world (that) we’re open for business... and that has always been our posture,” said Ong.
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