Editor's Note — Coronavirus cases remain high across the globe. Health officials caution that travel increases your chances of getting and spreading the virus. Staying home is the best way to stem transmission. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on June 14.
(CNN) — If you're planning to travel to Singapore, here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Singapore claimed the number-one spot on Bloomberg's monthly Covid Resilience Training index in April. This is Singapore's first appearance in the top slot, passing perennial winner New Zealand due to its speedy vaccine rollout.
As of May 7, anyone entering Singapore from places other than Australia, Brunei, mainland China, New Zealand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau will have to spend 21 days quarantining. This must be done in a government facility and not at home.
Be aware that Singapore takes its pandemic-control regulations very seriously and is not afraid to enforce them. Quarantine violations carry a penalty of a fine of up to S$10,000 ($7,565) or up to six months in jail, or both.
On May 17, a long-awaited "travel bubble" between Hong Kong and Singapore was delayed for a second time in response to rising Covid-19 cases in Singapore. It was scheduled to start on May 26.
It would have allowed quarantine-free travel between the two cities. It has now been delayed till at least June 13, when Singapore's current anti-pandemic measures will end.
Both cities have the option to call off the bubble if there is an uptick in cases on either side -- which was what happened when the first attempt at the bubble collapsed just 24 hours ahead of the inaugural flights in November 2019.
What's on offer
The quintessential modern Asian city, Singapore's glittering skyscrapers and waterside setting make it easy to love. Throw in some of the world's best street food, served in its ubiquitous hawker centers, and the lush rainforest of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, and the city-state has more than enough to satisfy fascinated tourists.
Who can go
Currently, entry is largely limited to Singapore citizens and permanent residents. Short term tourist visits from Australia, Brunei, Mainland China, New Zealand, Taiwan and Vietnam are now allowed, subject to securing an Air Travel Pass and taking a PCR test on arrival. Business travelers from these countries, as well as Indonesia and Japan can also enter under the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) scheme, but are subject to tight restrictions.
Anyone who has been in Guangzhou in the past 21 days is barred from entering Singapore, even if they have an active air travel pass, as of June 6. This is due to the spike in cases in the southern Chinese city.
Following news of a new variant, travelers from India have to serve an additional seven days of stay-home notice at their residence following their 14-day stay-home notice at dedicated facilities. The Ministry of Health confirmed this update on April 20. However, the existing restrictions against travelers from the UK and South Africa have been lifted as the home-grown variants seems to be under control in those countries.
Until February 1, travelers from Germany, Malaysia and South Korea were part of the RGL program. Following upticks in cases in those three countries, Singapore has indefinitely suspended the green lanes with them for at least three months. Visitors who have already been approved to use the RGL will still be able to travel back and forth as long as they test negative, but no new applications will be accepted.
The World Economic Forum, due to be held in the Lion City in May, has been postponed to August 17-20.
Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung says he expects the country to reopen through a slow, four-pronged approach by the end of 2021. One of the prongs will be waiving or greatly reducing quarantine restrictions for travelers with proof of vaccination. Another is expanding the list of countries and territories whose citizens can be cleared to visit unilaterally.
What are the restrictions?
Singapore nationals and permanent residents are allowed to enter, but must have proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure and spend 14 days in quarantine after being served a stay-home notice (SHN) on arrival. This can be undertaken in a dedicated SHN facility, or at their place of residence. However, those who opt for the latter must wear an electronic monitoring device for 14 days and will be subject to checks, including random visits, calls and text messages. Details including ID card or passport number must be shared in order to confirm identity. A further PCR test must be taken and come back negative before being allowed out into the community.
The city-state has announced that it will accept the IATA digital travel pass, colloquially called a vaccine passport, from May 2021. This pass will store data confirming that a traveler has received the Covid-19 vaccination from an accredited laboratory. As the pass is still in the planning stages, Singapore has not released more details about whether holders will be able to skip or shorten quarantine or have other benefits.
Those traveling from countries with an Air Travel Pass agreement must apply for entry here between seven and 30 days before departure and submit health details and all travel movements over the previous 14 days via a SGArrivalCard. They must also download the Trace Together app to their mobile device and pay for an on-arrival PCR test, at a cost of SGD$196 (US $148). This applies to all travelers aged six and over. Passengers must also secure non-residential accommodation for 48 hours while awaiting their results.
As of January 24, anyone entering Singapore for any reason will get a rapid Covid-19 test upon arriving at the airport. And as of January 31, all travelers will have to prove they have travel insurance that can cover at least $30,000 in expenses if necessary.
Business travelers using the Reciprocal Green Lane and working for Singapore-based companies are subject to the same rules and must be staying at a non-residential address. They must also give authorities an itinerary for the entire length of their stay.
Connect@Changi, a purpose-built bubble facility built at Changi Airport's Expo Hall, opened on February 19. The unique space provides places for people to meet in socially distanced pods and is intended as a way for high-value business travelers to come to the country safely, without leaving the airport for the duration of their stay.
Layover passengers are permitted in specific areas of the airport. They are not allowed to leave these designated areas unless they have a confirmed booking for one of Changi's two airport hotels, and if going there they must be accompanied by an airport staff member.
Following a small cluster linked to a Changi Airport cleaner, Singapore's airport had been closed to the public on May 13. That restriction was lifted on June 14.
Changi, often dubbed the world's best airport, has many areas open to the public and had been available as a co-working space for remote workers before the recent closure.
What's the Covid situation?
A small cluster of cases has been connected to Changi Airport employees following a positive test from an airport cleaner on May 5. Flights are still scheduled, but only ticketed passengers will be allowed into the passenger terminals, and all but a handful of shops and eateries are closed. As an additional precaution, anyone who passed through Terminal 3 -- where the cleaner worked -- since May 3 is eligible for a free Covid-19 test at a government facility.
Singapore has had 62,100 cases recorded as of June 9. That day, the country notched 34 deaths, which marked a grim milestone: the number of Covid deaths in Singapore officially passed those of the SARS epidemic in 2003.
On June 1, the government rolled out a plan to vaccinate students over the age of 18 on-site at schools and universities. Eligible individuals will get SMS messages from the government with specifics.
What can visitors expect?
Shops, bars and restaurants are open, but all visits must be registered either through the Singapore government's Safe Entry and Trace Together apps or by using a Trace Together token, which are available from community centers. Alcohol is not available in restaurants after 10.30 p.m.
Masks must be worn at all times when in public, except by those under six. There are exemptions for eating and exercising.
Our recent coverage