Nearly three years since it first introduced social restrictions as a result of the COVID pandemic, Singapore is joining the ranks of open countries in lifting all entry requirements and reinstating normality at the border. As of today, foreign tourists will no longer be subject to health checks arriving in the famous city-state.
Singapore is one of the trendiest destinations for Americans in Southeast Asia, up there with Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Despite its higher cost of living compared to other countries in the region, its impressive skyline and surprisingly diverse cultural wealth far outweigh the low affordability: prior to the full reopening, searches were already up by 201%.
Now they’re set to increase even further:
Singapore Reinstates Normality
Despite welcoming travelers mostly requirement-free in the pre-crisis era, especially American citizens, SEA countries were among the first to enact entry restrictions in response to the viral surge, having resorted to a number of measures, including lockdowns and border closures, to keep new variants from being imported into their territories.
It took at least two years until the subcontinent began loosening curbs again, and it did so gradually, with Vietnam and Cambodia leading the way. Others like Thailand and Malaysia soon followed, influenced by the improved epidemiological scenario and the record-breaking tourism recorded by their competitors, but an important piece of the puzzle was missing:
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As the most developed financial hub in Southeast Asia, Singapore remained off-limits to a majority of non-residents throughout 2020 and 2021, only reopening partially last year, when it began accepting short-term tourists who fulfilled certain criteria, such as being vaccinated or undergoing testing prior to departure.
Vaccinated Americans have been exempt from testing since April 2022, but the privilege was not extended to those who chose not to get immunized. Instead, they were required to present a negative COVID test – either a PCR or Rapid Antigen – up to 48 hours preceding take-off, a move many would describe as discriminatory.
Fortunately for restriction-wary travelers, the 5.4-million-strong nation is relaxing rules even further in 2023. As a matter of fact, the local Government is revoking a majority of health mandates still in force, and from February 13, all of the following will cease applying:
- Mandatory vaccination or testing for entry into Singapore
- Masks on public transport
- Buying COVID health insurance prior to traveling
Effectively, Singapore is reinstating its pre-2020 entry guidelines when COVID was but a hypothetical dystopian future most couldn’t have foreseen. From that date, tourists will be exempt from all health-related formalities traveling to Singapore, irrespective of nationality and country of arrival, but most importantly, of vaccination status.
Singapore To Treat Virus As Endemic
According to Reuters, the ‘virus taskforce’ decided to lift all remaining rules on February 9 after lowering the ‘disease outbreak response level’ from ‘yellow’ to ‘green’, which means COVID is no longer a threatening or potentially disruptive pathogen. In other words, Singapore is finally ready to move on and treat the virus as endemic.
Lawrence Wong, Deputy Prime Minister and Co-Chair of the task force was quoted saying the COVID situation ‘has remained stable over the recent months, despite increased travel over the year-end holidays and China’s shift from zero COVID’. This is further proof border closures have a limited impact on the reduction of transmission, as verified by health experts.
Wong also reiterated the Singaporean population has developed ‘a high level of hybrid immunity’, with close to 80% having received a full vaccination course and around half ‘up to date’ with any recommended booster shots: ‘We’ve had to deal with many unexpected curveballs and surprises along the way. But we managed to reach this point together because we all did our part‘.
Other than the border reopening and removal of mandatory masks, Singapore is eliminating the use of contact-tracing apps, as confirmed by Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, who confirmed himself authorities are deleting ‘identifiable data’ relating to COVID. In sum, this is the freest the country has been since 2019.
Naturally, face masks will continue to be mandatory in healthcare, though tourists are unlikely to need them unless they are visiting a hospital or an indoor ‘patient-facing area’ while touring Singapore. Now that it has scrapped all COVID rules affecting visitors, the tourism sector should return to its pre-pandemic levels by 2024.
Singapore is a world-class city renowned for its architectural feats. The now-iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel, a trio of three towers supporting a giant ‘floating ship’, or ‘Sky Park’, dominates the skyline, which is in its turn dotted with futuristic skyscrapers, lush gardens, and other man-made wonders.
Singapore Airlines offers direct flights to Singapore from at least three departure points in the United States: New York (JFK), San Francisco (SFO), and Los Angeles (LAX), making it one of the main gateways into Southeast Asia for American travelers.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Tuesday 14th of February 2023
While Singapore is a nice place it's also a extremely expensive destination.be prepared to fork out 200-300 USD a day if you want to do paid attractions in Singapore .cheapest 1 star hotels cost about 100 USD a night .
Monday 13th of February 2023
Malaysia and Thailand both removed all Covid restrictions before Cambodia did. Cambodia followed just 3 days after Thailand. For months, Vietnam was the only fully open country in SE Asia until Malaysia followed suit.
Monday 13th of February 2023
Philippines need to remove all c19 restrictions including pcr testing
Monday 13th of February 2023
@Grace, Yeah I agree with you...Since it is discriminatory especially to the tourist and also in their own citizen