Indonesian media reported that hundreds of Indonesians flooded the Batam Center International Ferry Port at Batam island trying to get into Singapore yesterday (16 Mar).
This came after Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Sunday (15 Mar) that Singapore will further put in place additional border restriction measures, as more imported cases of COVID-19 are being discovered in Singapore. Presently, the number of imported cases has exceeded that of the locally transmitted ones.
With the new restrictions, starting from yesterday’s midnight, all travellers entering Singapore with recent travel history to ASEAN countries, Japan, Switzerland, or the UK within the last 14 days will be issued with a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN). In addition, they will have to provide proof of the place where they will serve the 14-day SHN, for example a hotel booking covering the entire period, or a place of residence they or their family members own.
“This is because of the risk of community transmission in these countries and evidence of cases that have been imported from these countries into Singapore,” MOH said.
Also starting from yesterday’s midnight, all short-term visitors from any ASEAN country will have to submit information of their health to the Singapore Overseas Mission in the country they are resident. The submission will have to be approved by MOH before travelling to Singapore. Those who arrive in Singapore without the necessary approval will be denied entry.
Restricting people from buying ferry tickets
To cater to the flood of Indonesians wanting to enter Singapore, the Batam ferry operators only allowed those with temporary stay permits, student passes or permanent resident cards to buy the ferry tickets yesterday.
“Without those conditions, we cannot sell the tickets. It is a requirement set by Singapore,” said Batam Fast Ferry ticket officer Santi.
Batam Center International Ferry Port operations manager Nika Astaga said the port would study the impact of the aforementioned regulations issued by Singapore’s Ministry of Health. “Today [Monday], we will have a joint meeting with stakeholders at the port,” Nika said.
A number of ferry operators said they were still uncertain of their business following the restrictions, predicting a decline in the number of passengers. Rizal, a ferry worker, said he did not even know whether his company would run trips today (17 Mar).
Indonesians flying in too
The Singapore media also reported that large number of Indonesian travellers were arriving at Changi Airport from Jakarta yesterday.
Some told the media that they had rushed to book the next flight to Singapore following MOH’s announcement on Sunday.
Meanwhile, some netizens criticised MOH for giving these foreign short-term visitors a window to come into Singapore instead of restricting them immediately.
“Can (the) government please set restrictions ‘with immediate effect’ instead of setting deadline?” one asked.
Another said, “Don’t understand why they give so much time allowance for people to sneak in.”
“Government loves to ‘pawn’ Singaporeans with ‘immediate effect’ but very kind to the foreigners,” one quipped.
Yet another commented, “Really gonna see a real spike sia.”
Indonesia says number of new cases declining
Despite the fear of imported cases coming from Indonesia, the Indonesian health authorities said yesterday that Indonesia only had 17 new confirmed Covid-19 cases, marking the third straight days of decline in the number of new patients.
The total number of patients in Indonesia has reached 134 people since the country first found the pneumonia-like disease in its territory on 2 Mar. The number of fatalities has remained at five and recoveries at eight in the past three days.
Most of the new patients were in Jakarta, Achmad Yurianto, the spokesman of Indonesia’s Covid-19 handling team, said in a press conference yesterday. Banten, West Java, and Central Java each saw one new case in their region, said Yurianto.