As of Saturday (29 May), Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs) will be required to present a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test before returning or transiting through Singapore.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced this tightening of border measures on Wednesday (26 May) as the country ramps up measures to curb the risk of imported cases of the virus.
The new measures would require all travellers to present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of their departure to Singapore before they are even allowed to board a flight or ferry.
Upon arrival, they will have to present their results before taking another PCRT test and serving a 21-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN).
However, citizens and PRs who live in countries deemed as “lower risk” for 21-days before their departure are exempted from this new measure. Those countries include Australia, Brunei, mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and New Zealand.
Citizens and PRs travelling from these countries will have to either take an on-arrival PCR test without serving SHN, or serve a seven-day SHN at their residence before taking the test after the seven days.
Before this, the requirement was placed on long-term pass holders and short term visitors entering Singapore to present a negative PCR test pre departure to Singapore. This has been implemented since November 2020.
MOH had previously said that it did not extend the requirement of a pre-departure test to returning citizens and PRs as it did not want to make it difficult for them to return home if they are taken caught by a quickly deteriorating condition overseas.
In its statement yesterday, MOH said: “We have put in place advisories on overseas travel for some time now, and Singapore citizens and PRs abroad would have had more time to manage the risks of Covid-19 in the countries that they are in.”
From Saturday, any travellers arriving in Singapore without a valid negative PCR test done pre-departure may be denied entry, said the Ministry, adding that PRs and long-term pass holders who fail to comply may have their permits or pass cancelled.
The public reaction to this announcement has been one of surprise, especially the revelation that citizens and PRs have not been required to take a pre-departure test all this while.
Many were irked at the government’s slow and reactive response to the situation, calling them shortsighted and pointing out how other countries had made pre-departure testing a requirement a long time ago.
Netizens chided that this should have been a requirement much earlier especially when the number of imported cases were on the rise.
One person chided the government for never being proactive in its handling of the pandemic.
Others lamented that this new requirement is “too little, too late”.