Singapore is tightening its border restrictions once again to help combat the spread of COVID-19. From 23:59 (local time) on Sunday, January 24, travelers to Singapore, including permanent residents and citizens, will have to undergo a COVID-19 test upon arrival. In addition, visitors to the island state from January 31 will need a minimum of S$30,000 in travel insurance.
COVID-19 testing for all arrivals into Singapore
An update posted by Singapore’s Ministry of Health says all arrivals into Singapore will need to take a COVID-19 PCR test upon arrival. Further, travelers who are not Singaporean citizens or permanent residents will still have to take a COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours before departure. The prevailing stay at home requirements, including the PCR test at the end of the stay at home period, will continue.
There’s a further layer of bad news/complexity for travelers from either the United Kingdom or South Africa. Owing to the highly transmissible strains of the COVID-19 virus circulating in these countries, travelers from those origins will need to do an extra seven days in home quarantine from 23:59 (local time) on Sunday, January 24.
The Ministry of Health further notes travelers must bear the full costs of medical treatment, should they be suspected of being infected with COVID-19 or require medical treatment for COVID-19 while in Singapore. From January 31, 2021, travelers to Singapore will need to have travel insurance for their COVID-19-related medical treatment and hospitalization costs in Singapore, with a minimum coverage of S$30,000 (US$22,652).
Despite being mandatory, the on-arrival COVID-19 PCR test isn’t free. It costs approximately US$120 per person. The Singaporean Government strongly encourages travelers to book and pre-pay for their on-arrival COVID-19 PCR test before departing for Singapore. The test is undertaken after passing immigration but before passing through customs.
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Singapore opens the welcome door to some travelers
Singapore is struggling to walk the line between re-opening the country to business and keeping COVID-19 at bay. There’s a blanket ban on travel from most hotspot countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, and India. If travelers from those countries do need to come to Singapore, they need prior approval from Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.
Travelers from Australia (excluding New South Wales), Brunei, Mainland China, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Vietnam can apply for an air pass to travel to Singapore. Travel can be for any purpose, but applications should be made between seven and 30 days before travel.
Singapore also has an existing reciprocal green lane for business and official travel that currently covers Brunei, Germany, Mainland China, Malaysia, and South Korea.
Singapore Airlines makes the best of a bad situation
Singapore Airlines is making the best of a bad situation. They’ve just announced a pilot test of a one-stop online portal that allows passengers to book their pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test and securely store the results which they can then present to Singapore authorities upon arrival. Right now, the service is only available to Singapore Airlines and SilkAir passengers departing from Singapore, Jakarta, and Medan. If successful, there are plans to extend the rollout to other cities.
Like a lot of airlines, Singapore Airlines is working hard to reduce barriers to travel. In the case of COVID-19 PCR testing, if it can’t be avoided, then like so many other aspects of travel, Singapore Airlines would like to make it as seamless and painless as possible.