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Singapore to end pandemic-era restrictions, embrace ‘living with covid’ strategy

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Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong addresses the nation on Thursday, March 24, 2022. Credit: CNA | YouTube

Singapore is set to end most of its Covid-19 restrictions starting next Tuesday, March 29, as the country shifts from a pandemic to an endemic state of mind — learning to live with Covid, instead of trying to eliminate it. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the significant policy changes in a national address on Thursday…

“Our fight against COVID-19 has reached a major turning point. We will be making a decisive move towards living with COVID-19.”

Specifically, Lee said the city state will remove its outdoor mask mandates, the social gathering limit will be doubled from 5 to 10 people, large event capacity limits will also be increased, and more employees can return to offices. Mask wearing will still be required indoors and 1-meter social distancing will be required among maskless groups.

Most travel restrictions will likewise be lifted, the PM announced in his televised address to the nation. Later, the transport Minister S. Iswaran elaborated on the new rules at a press briefing: starting April 1, vaccinated travellers will be able to enter without quarantine and test on-arrival will also be dropped.

Current regulations required fully vaccinated travelers have to enter Singapore on specific flights to avoid quarantines. They must also take an ATK antigen rapid test on-arrival. Pre-departure tests will be removed for people entering at land borders, but will still be required for those entering by air and sea routes.

Previously, returning Singapore residents were required to pay for Covid-related medical bills if they tested positive within 14 days of their arrival, but now they’ll no longer need to — effective immediately.

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In his address, which was also streamed on Facebook, Lee encouraged people to go back to living ‘normal lives’ — with a caveat…

“Resume more normal lives, enjoy larger gatherings of family and friends, go outdoors without masks, or reunite with loved ones abroad — but do not throw all caution to the wind.”

Following the PM’s historic speech, the country’s travel-related stocks shot up. Sats, an in-flight catering services and ground-handling firm, gained 5.04%, while Singapore Airlines rose 4.25%, Reuters reported.

As of Tuesday, 92% of the Singaporean population had completed the initial series of Covid-19 vaccinations and 71% had received their booster shots.

On Wednesday, the Singapore and Malaysia health ministers said their nations were working together to fully resume air and land travel for vaccinated travellers. In the pre-pandemic era, the two countries shared one of the busiest land crossings in the world.

SOURCES: Reuters | CNBC | SCMP

Singapore to end pandemic-era restrictions, embrace 'living with covid' strategy | News by Thaiger

 

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