Imagine the Insta-bait Jewel at Changi waterfall completely devoid of photobombers, and you’ll get a sense of how the novel coronavirus has dried up tourism in the Lion City. Pre-pandemic, the ultra-modern airport that’s the reigning best in the world as voted by T+L readers accounted for more than five percent of the country’s GDP and employed 192,000 people; now it’s part of a national transport and storage industry that shrank 80 percent in the second quarter of this year from last.
Little surprise then that, in a bid to get the taps flowing again, Singapore is reopening unilaterally to visitors from Vietnam and Australia (excluding Victoria state) this week.
As of October 8, these two countries will join New Zealand and Brunei as the only four in the world from which travelers may visit Singapore for any reason they please, including short-term leisure trips. They’re calling it the Air Travel Pass: Take a swab test upon arrival in forever-efficient Changi, test negative, and be on your merry way. You just have to use the TraceTogether app for the duration of your stay.
In addition to tourists, Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders returning from Australia (excluding Victoria) and Vietnam will be able take a COVID-19 test upon landing. Previously, they needed to pre-quarantine at home for seven days and then take a swab test before flying into Singapore.
After a flare-up in July, Vietnam had zero local COVID-19 cases over the past month while Australia (again, except Victoria) had a low virus incidence rate of 0.02 cases per 100,000 people, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, making the risk of importing the virus from those places low.
No foreigners or overseas Vietnamese are currently able to enter Vietnam via commercial flights. Even those with diplomatic passports are only approved entry on a case-by-case basis.
The chance that the coronavirus will reach Singapore from Oz is even lower considering the fact that Australia not only bans foreigners from entering but also everyone from leaving: anyone who wants to fly out overseas must apply for an exemption.
Now, we’re just debating what’s better to list as a reason on our application: shopping on Orchard, a gin pilgrimage to Atlas… or an uninterrupted selfie with the world’s tallest indoor waterfall?
Where to stay: