Travellers who are making essential business and official trips between China and Singapore will be exempted from having to serve a 14-day quarantine, but will have to be subjected to swab tests before departure and upon arrival.
According to a joint statement by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on Wednesday (June 3), Singapore and China have agreed to create a fast lane to facilitate essential business and official travel between both countries.
Business or official travellers who are sponsored by government agencies and need to travel between China and Singapore may submit applications from June 8, 2020 onwards, while applications for company-sponsored travellers can be submitted in a later phase.
Essential travel must be sponsored by either a company or government agency
According to the “Singapore-China fast lane” announcement, residents in Singapore seeking to make essential travel to China via the fast lane must be sponsored by either a company or government agency in China, who will file an application on behalf of the applicant.
If the application is approved, an invitation will be issued to the applicant.
The applicant will then have to apply for a visa from the Chinese Embassy in Singapore, as well as submit a health declaration to the Chinese authorities.
Similarly, residents in China seeking to make essential travel to Singapore via the fast lane must be sponsored by either a company or a Singapore government agency, which will file an application on behalf of the applicant for a SafeTravel Pass.
When the SafeTravel Pass application is approved, an approval letter will be issued to the applicant, and an approved applicant can then proceed to apply for a visa for travel to Singapore through the usual channels.
If the applicant has an existing valid visa, or do not require a visa prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, they will not be required to apply for a visa for fast lane travel.
Approved applicants must take a PCR test within 48 hours before departure
Approved applicants travelling between China and Singapore must take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 48 hours before departure, and obtain a certificate of having tested negative for Covid-19, before their travels may commence.
In addition, applicants travelling from China to Singapore must have remained in any of the Chinese fast lane regions for the last seven days prior to departure for Singapore.
These provinces or municipalities are Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing, Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.
When departing, the applicant must produce a valid SafeTravel Pass, a negative PCR test result, a return air ticket and a valid visa, for passport holders who require a visa, for pre-boarding checks.
Those who cannot produce these documents can be refused boarding.
In addition, users of the fast lane between China and Singapore must bear the costs of the pre-departure PCR test themselves.
Those who are tested positive must bear the cost of their own treatment
After arriving in China from Singapore, an approved applicant will have to undergo a PCR test and serology test at his or her own cost, and remain in locations designated by the local provincial or municipal government for one to two days, until the test result is released.
If the traveller tests negative for Covid-19, the host company or government agency will transport the traveller directly from these locations to the workplace or residence.
On the other hand, if the traveller tests positive for Covid-19, the traveller will have to undergo medical treatment in China at the traveller’s own cost.
They must also use China’s local Health QR code for the duration of their stay in China.
Similarly, an approved applicant travelling from China to Singapore will have to undergo a PCR tests upon arrival, and will also be required to produce a valid SafeTravel Pass and a negative PCR test result to arrival immigration.
If the traveller cannot produce these documents, they will have to denied entry.
Upon entry into Singapore, the applicant must remain in isolation at a self-sourced declared accommodation, which cannot be a residential address, for a period of one to two days until the test result is known.
The host company or government agency must transport the traveller directly from the airport to the declared self-sourced accommodation.
If the traveller tests negative for Covid-19, the host company or government agency must ensure that he or she must be transported directly from the declared accommodation to the workplace, and back.
If he or she tests positive, the traveller will have to stay in Singapore for treatment, at their own cost.
Travellers must use the TraceTogether app for the duration of their stay.
Controlled itinerary upon arrival for the first 14 days
Approved travellers must also adhere to a controlled itinerary, which is supervised by the host company or government agency for the first 14 days.
They may not use public transportation, with the exception of private hire cars, taxis or cohorted company transport.
Travellers from Singapore who need to travel between the six fast lane regions in China within the first 14 days of arrival must obtain approval in advance from the provincial or municipal government of the next destination.
They will only be allowed to travel outside the six fast lane regions after staying in the fast lane regions for 14 days, and must adhere to prevailing measures in China.
Essential travel allowed to resume soon with “travel bubbles”
On May 28, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong announced that Singapore will consider allowing essential travel in and out of the country to resume, through the establishment of travel bubbles with countries that have the virus situation under control.
According to Wong, the idea was to have clear testing protocols in place, in order to have the assurance that travellers to Singapore is free from Covid-19 infection.
Travellers to Singapore may have to be tested before departure, and those who have been tested positive for Covid-19 in the past may need to undergo serology tests.
Those who have been tested may not need to undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Singapore, but they might be required to download the TraceTogether app or wear a dongle that performs a similar function, in order for the authorities to know where they are, should contact tracing be needed.
However, Wong said that these arrangements do not apply to mass-market travel, and that only “essential travel” will be allowed to resume, depending on the countries with which Singapore has established Green Lanes.
Arrangements made following months of discussion with some countries
Parallel discussions have been taking place with countries like China, New Zealand and Vietnam.
With China, for instance, an agreement was reached to launch a “fast lane” for essential air travel early this month:
The ministries said that quotas will be in place for those in Singapore heading to China, as well as those in China coming into Singapore.
Travel will initially be allowed between six Chinese provinces or municipalities and Singapore, and will gradually expand to the rest of China.
All travellers arriving or leaving Singapore will be required to download apps for contact tracing as well.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also recently spoke with his New Zealand counterpart Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, during the Singapore-New Zealand Virtual Summit on May 27, 2020.
According to PM Lee’s Facebook post, the two countries reaffirmed their commitment to keeping supply chains intact as the Covid-19 situation persists, and are also discussing creating a green lane for short-term essential travel between Singapore and New Zealand.
Similarly, PM Lee also had a phone call with Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc on May 29, and the two countries are discussing resuming air travel safely via a similar green lane.
“We will also explore reopening borders for essential travel safely and gradually, when the time is right,” PM Lee said in his Facebook post.
Top photo via Changi Airport.
This content was originally published here.