Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said in a Facebook post on Sunday (15 March) that the newest travel restrictions announced by the Government for anyone travelling from ASEAN countries will not affect the supply of food and other essentials between Singapore and Malaysia.
This is because the travel restrictions do not include Singaporeans and Malaysians who use land and sea crossings with Malaysia, as well as drivers who are transporting the abovementioned goods as they will still be allowed to enter Singapore as per the usual procedure, said Mr Chan.
On Sunday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) declared that all travellers entering Singapore who have visited other ASEAN countries, Japan, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom in the past two weeks will be issued a 14-day stay-home notice (SHN).
The stay-home notice – which will include Singapore residents, long-term pass holders, and short-term visitors – will take effect starting 11.59 pm on Monday (16 March), according to MOH.
Apart from that, all short-term visitors who are nationals of any ASEAN country will be required to submit requisite information on their health to the Singapore Overseas Mission in their resident country prior to their intended date of travel to Singapore, the approval of which will be subject to Singapore’s MOH.
MOH warned that short-term visitors arriving “without the necessary approval will be denied entry into Singapore”.
“They are therefore advised to secure the approval before making definitive travel bookings,” the Ministry added.
Close proximity with Malaysia
In response to MOH’s latest border restriction measures, Mr Chan said that it is needed to “reduce the risk of importation of COVID-19 cases to Singapore”.
“However, given our close proximity to Malaysia, the 14-day SHN will not apply to our land and sea crossings with Malaysia. Singaporean and Malaysian workers who commute between Singapore and Malaysia daily will still be able to do so,” Mr Chan wrote in his post.
He added, “The latest restrictions will also not have an impact on the supply of food and other essentials between Singapore and Malaysia as drivers of goods vehicles will be able to enter as per normal.”
The Minister explained that these measures are “necessary to ensure that our healthcare system does not get overwhelmed by people entering Singapore for the sole purpose of seeking treatment in Singapore.”
He added that the Government will continue to monitor the situation as the deadly coronavirus began developing rapidly across the globe.
As of 15 March, MOH confirmed and verified 14 more cases of COVID-19, bringing the total in the country to 226.
Upon reading Mr Chan’s post, many netizens gave mixed reactions over the matter. Some of them slammed the Government for not closing the border between Malaysia and Singapore as Malaysia saw a sudden spike of 190 cases of COVID-19 in just one day. They asked in the Facebook page of Channel NewsAsia how the Government could be sure that the drivers transporting food and essentials goods are not carriers of the deadly coronavirus.
However, another bunch of online users supported the Government’s decision to allow food and essential items from Malaysia to be brought in via land and sea. This is because they said that Singapore is still dependent on Malaysia for food and daily essentials, so closing the border completely is not wise.
Meanwhile, some opined that Singapore should focus on generating its own vegetables so it will be less dependent on other neighbouring countries. They suggested that research should be conducted on how to do simple vegetable growing or residents living in HDB to be allowed to have their own “tower vertical vegetables planting concept that [is] self-sufficient”.