Singapore keen to re-open its borders

The island-state and its showpiece airport have been heavy-hit by travel restrictions.

By Bloomberg News , August 15 2020
Singapore keen to re-open its borders

Singapore could consider opening its borders to tourists in an effort to attract more traffic into its once-bustling airport.

The city state could unilaterally allow passengers from certain countries or regions that have kept virus cases at similar or lower levels than Singapore, Ong Ye Kung, the newly appointed transport minister, said Friday in a speech to his staff, without naming any nations. A 14-day quarantine is a “major deterrent” to travelers and the country may have to consider replacing it with a rigorous testing regime, he said.

“Health and economic considerations are not at odds – we will find ways to revive our air hub and keep Singapore safe,” Ong said.

The country’s airport has been “almost totally incapacitated,” with only about 150 aircraft movements a day compared with over 1,000 previously. There are no domestic flights for Changi Airport to serve.

The Southeast Asian nation has been hard hit by the pandemic, given its tourism industry largely relies on international travelers to keep its shops and attractions humming. It welcomed just 3,800 visitors in the second quarter, the least on record, and its economy is heading for the worst contraction since independence.

Changi Airport closed two of its four terminals and construction of a fifth terminal has been halted for at least two years as the outbreak is set to change the way people travel. Ong signaled any new travel arrangements could be a way to boost passenger numbers at the airport to about 40% of pre-Covid levels.

“Our challenge is to restore passenger volume, while keeping virus transmission under control,” he said.

The city-state is expecting new virus cases to fall now that it has cleared its heavily-impacted migrant worker dormitories of the virus.

Already, Singapore has inked arrangements with China and Malaysia to allow business and official travelers, and Ong said such reciprocal green lanes could be proliferated. The Southeast Asian nation said this week it is working toward such an arrangement with Japan as early as September.

Ong, who was most recently education minister, had kept schools in the city-state open throughout the pandemic, except during a two-month partial lockdown.

“To survive, we have to keep our borders open,” Ong said. “To thrive, we have to connect to the world. To prosper, we have to be a hub of the global economy.”

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This article was published under license from Bloomberg Media and the original article can be viewed here

17 Aug 2020

Total posts 1

Hello, please when are the borders going to open internationally in Singapore?

P
P

17 Jan 2018

Total posts 65

Singapore has been closed to visitors/foreigners since mid March. This has done irreparable damage to their economy and reputation as a regional hub. Even people with work permits/employment passes have been denied entry. They therefore have a lot of work to do to to re-establish themselves. Offering transit services wont cut it. They need to open up as Europe has done and manage the consequences and risks best they can. Otherwise they risk becoming inconsequential. 

05 Jan 2018

Total posts 37

they've got their work cut out for them. its a pretty boring city to live in as most expat surveys regularly show. there's not a lot to do which isn't shopping or eating out related. and everything costs way more than it should. in a post-covid world, with most knowledge economy and finance professionals working flexibly (location and time), SG stops serving a purpose other than a low tax rate. it made sense when bankers for eg. had to be in SG to move from one global bank to the other or one law firm to the other and its was necessary to be in the regional HO physically. not any more. 

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 119

@Rotate 

What is your idea of a life that is not boring? Curious what other people with and without kids in tow expects from living in Australian cities and overseas.

Disclaimer: I lived a major part of my life in Singapore but frankly I don’t do anything different in Australia (except being able to own a car..... in a country where public transport is worse than many oecd and third world countries!)

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 194

Rotate, that is an excellent analysis.

P
P

17 Jan 2018

Total posts 65

I wouldn't say Singapore is boring. Its way better than what any Australian city has to offer. I lived there for 10 years so speak from experience.  Agree with rest of rotate comments.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 64

The world needs to open up. All the money thrown around by Governments has mostly been wasted. Imagine if that money had or is spent on super fast testing which can be done daily for international arrivals. This will allow borders to open and also quickly identify anyone who contracts the virus and they can then be isolated. You can never stop this virus, so all efforts should be about how we can use excellent medical technology to live with it while allowing borders to open and economies start to recover.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 194

It does, but just because you say it should doesn't mean it will happen. Clearly this is a global reset, and thus the reason why the whole world shut down over a virus that is no more harmful than any previous flu virus, ebola, H1N1, swine flu or any of the others. It's merely media propaganda that is being hyped to make it appear this virus is like no other, but without evidence.

Even the testing regimen you speak of will deter travellers. You see, people don't want to travel and have a cotton swab pushed up their nose, possibly 2-3 times between the time you book your plane ticket and arriving in a foreign country. It's an workable solution.

The only solution is opening up and going back to the way the world was until March 2020. Otherwise, you can forget about a rebound to either tourist or business travel. Aside from the inconvenience, pain and violation of human rights that forced testing entails, the very real possibility of testing positive and being put in hospital for at least 2 weeks will deter many a traveller who won't dare to travel anymore with this possibility lurking over them.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 64

TheFreqFlyer - I agree 100% with your comments. To be perfectly honest, I don't care too much whether anyone else fly's or if we get back to previous volumes, just as long as I can fly unrestricted. If testing will allow that - bring it on and let me fly!

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 194

Richard, indeed! That's what I'm hoping for. Let's hope sanity will prevail and the good times will come back sometime next year. Like you, I don't care about getting back to previous travel volumes. That will take time anyway, given many people all over the world are doing it tough financially. I however am in a position to travel when it becomes possible again. Sounds like you are in the same boat as me.

I have been living in Singapore for 11 years now i moved here from Melbourne to give my business the opportunity to grow without being penalized by our inefficient Federal,State governments along with the local governments.Of course the unfriendly tax man.

The country is safe well governed fair and has  extremely tough laws for people who do the wrong things.I can walk at night time without any concerns i could not do that in Melbourne and our courts in Australia are pathetic here if you do the crime you are severely punished.My business is now very successful [i pay a lot less tax ] and i still have not explored the rest of Singapore as there is so much to see and experience here.So Rotate i am not sure you have your facts right this place if far from boring maybe you should come and visit this great country..

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 194

Indeed, Singapore is alright. A bit of a small place and somewhat too socialist for my liking, but as a regular short-term visitor it's great. Let's hope things will go back to normal soon so I can once again visit.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 119

@TheFreqFlyer

One person’s socialist is another’s communist. When I first came to Australia, I thought the lucky country was far more socialist in its policies than USSR had ever been with added bonus of freedom of speech and movements. 

Even now we come to expect and receive a lot of social support seen in top tier of OCED countries, at sky high wages paying for premium goods made overseas. Even the land of the brave and free pales by comparison.

I almost fell out of my chair when you call Singapore too socialist. Perhaps the population appears largely meek and pliable to government will, but in many ways Singapore is highly market driven, depended on free trade arrangement for access to other nations. Direct government support in social services are limited by OECD standards, quite similar to other ASEAN founding members by proportion. Residents can get subsidied services, but they have to go very far to prove their poor financial state and lack of other support from families, on order to qualify.

The locals are born into a perpetual rat race with ever changing rules determined not just by external forces but by government decisions based on political ideology. I suppose Singapore have to keep up with the ever changing world but I can safely say that an average Singaporean will face shifting goalposts such that nothing is ever too sacred or safe from change. Previous civil service pension scheme forced buyback and compulsory superannuation rules, home “ownership” (in actual fact, 99 years lease subject to draconian government buyback clauses under urban renewal and en bloc threshold) really meant no certainty in life in Singapore and sometimes the relationship between resident and state is almost communist in one direction and capitalist in the other direction. It was no surprise in some way that the Chinese government was so interested in Singapore’s model in the late eighties and nineties such that they incorporated some of those ideas into what China is now. 

But socialist... heck no, no Singaporean I would imagine would ever consider their country as that.

Singapore lands on its feet once again...the greatest asset Singapore has coming out of Covid is that Hong Kong is off the travel agenda for at least 5 years. Things only getting worse there. Poor CX.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 64

That is a very strange comparison? Apart from a small increase recently which will soon subside, HK has shown excellent control. Lower numbers than SG. Both are equally in a position to open their borders right now.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 194

CX might not be doing well financially, and Hong Kong has had a lot of negative things going for it recently, from the 2019 protests to the recent adoption of the new security law, but I believe it has the potential to re-emerge as an important transit and business travel destination in the not too distant future.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 194

I'm sure even Thailand would be ready to re-open at least to transit passengers, if it weren't for the fact that THAI Airways is in dire financial straits.

P
P

17 Jan 2018

Total posts 65

It really does amaze me that people could say Singapore is boring especially compared with any Australian city.

Which Australian city has:

Multiple Vibrant night time districts

Literally tens of thousands of restaurants and food outlets covering every budget. World class cuisine 

World class gardens (indoors and out)

Theme parks

Resort Island

Casinos x 2 (i know Australians love to gamble)

Zoo including Night Safari

World class aquarium 

Incredible clean safe frequent and CHEAP public transport eg $2 from airport to city

Interesting cultures Chinese/Malay/Indian districts and influences

Warm evening friendly temperatures

A whole slew of countries only 2 hours away by cheap flights (pre C19).

Shopping not interested but obviously better in Singapore with exception of supermarkets (that because people are out 2/3 times a week)

I know Canberra comes close to the above but seriously you should take a holiday sometime once they let you out and they let you in! 

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 119

@P

I agree with you and perhaps some forget Singapore is a city state as well as a tourist destination (of sorts). 

There will be plenty of people who are happy to stay and live in a Metro Sydney, Melbourne or Bri-Vegas for most part of the year, and Singapore is smaller than these capitals with more than double the population. Even then most people will spent all their down time with family and friends involving short distance travel, rather than looking for a different theme park or camping/surfing spot every week. 

Ironically Singapore changes far more quickly and extensively than any part of Australia such that any local map will get seriously outdated in 5 years or more. Buildings get knocked down and built within a few years particularly with ever growing local train network, even public housing facade changes every 10-15 years. There are so many road works all over Singapore at any time that the locals often joke the Department of Public Works must be the best funded agency in Singapore. Reminds me of the Yes Minister jib whereby if a department comes on budget for the year, they next budget will be cut!

05 Jan 2018

Total posts 37

if you liked living on the set of the truman show, i guess you'd be right...

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 517

Honestly more than 3 days in SIN for a visitor gets super boring. Up till then its fantastic. It's immaculate, safe etc but lacks a little soul. That said I always enjoy a limited stop-over in SIN and always will.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 119

@Joe

I agree with your comments about lacking a little soul.

I had spent a large part of my life in Singapore and as I get older I often reminisce but all my schools and homes are there no more. Even those grand old institutions which survive changes buildings or addresses due to government pursuit of urban renewal.

There are times I felt like snoopy* protesting about cars parking on his memories but then that will really be showing my age.

*Snoopy as in Peanuts comic strip as in newspaper as in news printed on broadsheet papers for those millennial readers.....


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