When the coronavirus in Singapore started taking hold, countries like Taiwan, South Korea, and even Israel soon started to issue travel advisories and/or bans for Singapore.
The rise of several clusters saw our normally well ordered city go into a little bit of a panic, but things have more or less cooled down since then, thanks largely to efficient contact tracing and excellent medical care and systems.
Seeing the situation developing and changing so quickly over the past month, deciding whether to go ahead with your travel plans to Singapore can be a tricky and difficult decision.
With the situation remaining unpredictable, and no end in sight, the big question in your mind is probably whether it’s safe to travel to Singapore during this period.
The Current Landscape
View this post on Instagram
Using a serological test developed by Duke-NUS Medical School, the authorities were able to discover the source of the Grace Assembly coronavirus cluster. The test, which is done on a blood sample, is able to detect past infections even in recovered patients. This is believed to be the first time clusters have been linked using serological tests. Link in bio @straits_times #StraitsTimes #coronavirus #covid19
As of 4th March 2020, there are 110 cases of people who have contracted COVID-19, of which 78 patients have been discharged from hospital. This is certainly an encouraging sight, and signs that the spread of coronavirus in Singapore may be stabilising. That said, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong has warned that there could potentially be a spike in COVID-19 cases moving forward.
However, there is a sense on the ground that the general fear and apprehension towards COVID-19 amongst Singaporeans is subsiding somewhat, in step with the dropping frequency of new cases. Shopping streets, malls, and dining establishments are again seeing sizeable human traffic, and things seem to be slowly transitioning back to normal.
In comparison with other countries in the region and beyond, the relative stability of coronavirus in Singapore doesn’t present any alarm bells that would warrant cancelling your trip to Singapore. The COVID-19 strain isn’t spreading like wildfire and the situation appears to be rather in control. (At the very least, the authorities here know how the cases are linked.)
There are temperature screening thermal stations at the entrances of high foot traffic locations so there’s at least some assurance that people with moderately high body temperature will be spotted.
Paying attention to stepping up your personal hygiene and practicing social distancing remains the recommended method to prevent being infected, and having a mask or two handy also doesn’t hurt.
Travel Advisories To Take Note Of
View this post on Instagram
From Wednesday, travellers who had been to South Korea, northern Italy and Iran within the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore, as the Republic ramps up its fight against the spread of the coronavirus. The Ministry of Health also urged Singaporeans to defer non-essential travel to these locations which have seen spikes in cases. Link in bio @straits_times 📸: Ariffin Jamar #coronavirus #covid19 #StraitsTimes
The Singapore government has announced travel bans for travellers who have been to mainland China, Northern Italy, South Korea, and Iran within the last 14 days. These people, unfortunately, will not be able to enter Singapore.
So, if you have travelled to any of these places or are from these countries, you may have no choice but to postpone your travel plans to Singapore.
Singaporeans who have travelled to countries with significant COVID-19 cases such as the above have been issued with a mandatory 14-day Stay Home Notice (SHN) which acts as a quarantine system to minimise any form of local transmission.
Business As Usual
When you see even countries far away like Switzerland reporting cases, there is going to be a heightened fear globally.
But the situation in Singapore is stabilising, and by and large, it’s business-as-usual for tourist attractions. Popular places like Universal Studios Singapore and Gardens by the Bay are slowly starting to see people stream back, though recovery to pre-Covid-19 visitor levels will probably take a while.
Shopping malls and dining establishments are open as usual as well, with many places offering promotions to get people to visit. Schools and businesses continue to stay open so there isn’t much disruption to the day-to-day in Singapore.
Do note that while businesses are generally open, there may be changes to opening hours, so we recommend to check ahead if they are open during your visit.
All in all, the situation is under control and barring a massive outbreak or spread, there shouldn’t be any reason you have to cancel your travel plans. In fact, the relative lack of visitors may well prove to be enjoyable experience, especially if you’re the sort that don’t like crowds.
Update as of Monday, 23rd March 2020
The World Health Organisation has officially declared COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on 11 March as over 118,000 cases were confirmed in 114 countries.
The tides have turned, now that more countries are affected and imported cases have increased, Singapore is taking a stricter stance on mitigating the virus outbreak.
Previously, except for a handful of countries, short-term visitors were allowed to come into Singapore, although they have to serve a 14-day stay-home notice once they entered the country.
On 22 March 2020, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has reconditioned the travel restriction to forbid all short-term visitors from anywhere in the world to enter or transit through Singapore in view of the heightened risk of importation of COVID-19 cases. This will take effect at 11:59pm on Monday 23 March.
Looking at the state of the world right now, it is best to postpone your travel plans and take care of your health and the people around you. Stay safe, wherever you may be!