Travel agreements hinge on vaccination and overall situation: Gan Kim Yong
Health Minister says bilateral arrangements, which will vary, being discussed
Singapore is actively discussing mutual travel arrangements with other countries, and such arrangements are likely to vary between different countries, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong has said.
These agreements may not hinge solely on vaccination as it depends on what the overall situation is like in each country, said Mr Gan, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling the Covid-19 pandemic with Education Minister Lawrence Wong.
During a virtual press conference yesterday, Mr Gan said such negotiations are taking place on a bilateral basis and that Singapore cannot currently have a standard framework for all countries.
"Eventually, after a year or two years, when almost all countries are able to bring the pandemic under control... then we may be able to have multilateral global travel arrangements. But it's a long way off."
Mr Wong said other questions such as whether travellers will have to be placed under stay-home notice (SHN) when returning from a given country hinges on not only both countries' vaccination programmes but also Singapore's assessment of the impact of vaccination on transmission risk.
Asked if Singapore will only recognise vaccination certificates for travellers who have received the vaccines that have been approved for use here, Mr Wong said it is more important to consider the overall transmission risk in the other country.
He said a country which is able to keep infection rates under control will become a low-risk country, which means travellers entering Singapore from that country need not serve an SHN.
Besides vaccination, Mr Wong said testing is another key consideration. Antibody tests, for example, can help determine not only if a person has been vaccinated but also if he has the right antibody response to confer immunity.
"It's not just looking at the vaccine alone, but looking at broader considerations, including the overall situation in the country and the possibilities of additional tests that can be administered," he said.
Mr Wong noted that previously negotiated reciprocal green lane agreements were developed before any country had vaccinations, and more discussion will be needed before these agreements resume.
"We will look at the possibility of resuming some of the travel lanes but with a different context because vaccines are now available.
"Part of the discussions about bilateral travel lanes would now include mutual recognition of vaccine certificates and what it means for vaccinated persons to travel."