Singapore will allow entry of business travelers on short-term stays and will create a special segregated travel lane for them, the country's Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing announced on Tuesday via a Facebook post. The entry will be allowed form 2021 to business travelers from all countries and application for the initiative will be open in mid-January.

The initiative is an attempt to boost confidence among people that Singapore is on the path of recovery after being battered by the coronavirus pandemic. Singapore's economy is largely dependent on tourism, which has taken a hit since the Covid-19 outbreak, with its national carrier Singapore Airlines incurring massive losses owing to a massive decline in international travel.

Steady Move

Changi Airport
A general view of the check-in area of the departure hall during a media tour of Changi Airport Terminal 4 in Singapore July 25, 2017 Edgar Su/Reuters

The travel lane, or the Connect@Singapore initiative, will allow entry of a limited number of business travelers from all countries to enter Singapore. However, their stay too will have to be for a short period, precisely not more than 14 days, a separate Ministry of Trade and Industry read.

Chan also said that business travelers who want entry in Singapore will have to stay at an appointed facility under the Connect@Singapore initiative and will have to follow all the protocols such as undergoing regular and routine testing and strictly observing all prevailing Safe Management Measures. "We will ensure that strict health and testing protocols are put in place," he said.

Travelers will also have to follow certain protocols before entering Singapore such as making no trips in the previous 14 days. However, travelers won't be subject to any quarantine or stay-at-home notice upon arrival.

That said, the arrangement comes with a caveat that the plan might get suspended if the coronavirus situation deteriorates between the two travelling cities. The new travel lane comes just weeks after the postponement of a highly anticipated Hong Kong and Singapore "air travel bubble."

Rebuilding the Economy

Singapore
Singapore (Representational Picture) Wikimedia Commons

Understandably, the announcement of the travel lane by Chan builds on Singapore's efforts to reopen its borders in a controlled manner. The Southeast Asian nation has been badly beaten and bruised by the pandemic and is slowly trying to get back on its feet.

The country's small and open economy is largely dependent on the tourist and service sectors for growth. But the Covid-19-induced shutdowns and travel ban has been taking a massive toll on its economy. Singapore, however, doesn't want to rush to open its borders given that it is yet to start the vaccination drive.

Business travelers will also have to present a valid negative Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test before leaving their home country, and take another PCR test after arriving in Singapore. The Ministry of Trade and Industry said that segregated facilities will be appointed in the next few weeks where the travelers will be put up.

Travelers are expected to start entering Singapore from January 2021 itself.