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Asia Minute: Singapore Eases Some Quarantine Rules

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14-day quarantines will remain in force for passengers arriving to Hawaii at least through the end of September. But in Southeast Asia, one country is starting to make some careful adjustments to its quarantine policy.

Singapore is slightly relaxing some of its border controls.

In a little more than a week, visitors from Brunei and New Zealand will be able to take a COVID-19 test on arrival in Singapore. And if it’s negative, they can skip the 14-day quarantine that’s currently mandatory for all visitors.

The co-chair of the government’s task force dealing with the virus says this pilot program could be expanded over time.

One factor that makes the no-quarantine change manageable is a relatively low number of passengers coming from the two countries involved. There are only two flights a week from Brunei to Singapore — carrying a maximum of 500 passengers, while the four flights a week from New Zealand can carry up to about 12,000 travelers.

Singapore is also shortening the quarantine period for visitors from several other locations — seven days instead of fourteen. The list of eligible areas includes China, Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia, as well as Australia – except for Victoria state, which is still seeing high case numbers.

These visitors will go into quarantine for a week and will need to test negative for the virus before they can travel freely in Singapore.

The government has also been careful to point out that if visitors develop symptoms or get sick while they’re in Singapore, they will be responsible for their own medical bills.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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