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Singapore to ease SHN requirements for vaccinated travellers from eight countries

Singapore will allow some visitors and returning Singaporeans and residents to serve Stay-Home Notice (SHN) at their place of residence starting from 20 August

Singapore will soon allow fully vaccinated travellers from eight countries to serve their 7 or 14-day SHN at home, starting 11.59pm on 20 Aug 2021 (i.e 21 Aug 2021).

The countries are:

  • Australia 🇦🇺
  • Austria 🇦🇹
  • Canada 🇨🇦
  • Germany 🇩🇪
  • Italy 🇮🇹
  • Norway 🇳🇴
  • South Korea 🇰🇷
  • Switzerland 🇨🇭

While this doesn’t amount to a complete lifting of SHN requirements, this is still a very heartening development, as most arrivals into Singapore for the past 18 months had to be served in dedicated facilities (i.e. hotels). 

Who is eligible to serve SHN at home?

The option to serve a 14-day SHN at home will be available from 11.59pm, 20 Aug 2021 (i.e. 21 Aug onwards) to travellers arriving from the abovementioned countries, provided they fulfill the following conditions too:

  • Travellers must be fully-vaccinated. Full vaccination is defined as having completed the full regimen of Pfizer-BioNTech/Comiraty, Moderna, or any other vaccine on the WHO’s Emergency Use Listing (i.e. AstraZeneca, Covishield, Janssen, Sinopharm, Sinovac) at least 14 days prior to arrival.
  • The traveller must have remained in the eight listed countries, and/or Brunei, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, Mainland China, New Zealand, Taiwan for 21 consecutive days before arrival in Singapore.  If they have spent any time within the last 21 days before arrival outside of these 14 countries/territories, the default SHN rules apply (i.e. in dedicated hotels).
  • Travellers must occupy their place of residence aloneor only with household members who are also vaccinated, serving SHNs with the same travel history and isolation period. 

For Singaporeans and PRs, they must make an opt-out application (SDF opt-out form here) via the SafeTravel website at least three days before arriving in Singapore.

Foreigners entering Singapore may also opt out as part of their entry application process. This will be made available from 11.59pm, 20 Aug 2021.

More information can be found here.

What does this development mean?

The relaxation of SHN requirements is a strong hint that these eight countries might just be the first few to have their SHN requirements further shortened or done away completely in the near future.

Of course, for this to happen, there are other indicators that need to be met, including a controlled infection rate and high vaccination rates in these countries, as well as for Singapore to achieve the 80% fully-vaccinated milestone.

So should I start booking tickets now?

Hold your horses, we recommend.

While we are starting to see relaxation of quarantine requirements coming back to Singapore, there’s still the quarantine requirements of the country you intend to visit to consider.

Unfortunately for us, most of the 14 countries/territories that have no or relaxed SHN requirements upon return, still have entry restrictions in one form or another, unless you are on diplomatic or official business.

CountryEntry for Singaporeans and SG residentsSHN requirements upon return
(from 11.59pm 20 Aug)
Australia 🇦🇺 ⛔ No entry😐 14-day SHN at home for vaccinated travellers only
Austria 🇦🇹🆗 Permitted😐 14-day SHN at home for vaccinated travellers only
Brunei 🇧🇳⛔ No entry 😊 No SHN required
Canada 🇨🇦⛔ No entry (note: planned reopening from 7 Sep 2021)😐 14-day SHN at home for vaccinated travellers only
Germany 🇩🇪🆗 Permitted 😐 14-day SHN at home for vaccinated travellers only
China 🇨🇳 ⛔ No entry 😊 No SHN required (all areas except Jiangsu)
😐 7-day SHN at home/self-sourced location (for Jiangsu province)
Hong Kong SAR 🇭🇰⛔ No entry 😐 7-day SHN at home/self-sourced location
Italy 🇮🇹🏠 Entry permitted with 5-day self-isolation😐 14-day SHN at home for vaccinated travellers only
Macau SAR 🇲🇴⛔ No entry 😐 7-day SHN at home/self-sourced location
New Zealand 🇳🇿⛔ No entry 😊 No SHN required
Norway 🇳🇴⛔ No entry😐 14-day SHN at home for vaccinated travellers only
South Korea 🇰🇷⛔ No entry😐 14-day SHN at home for vaccinated travellers only
Switzerland 🇨🇭🆗 Permitted😐 14-day SHN at home for vaccinated travellers only
Taiwan 🇹🇼⛔ No entry 😊 No SHN required

As you can see from the table above, only Germany, Switzerland and Austria are available for travel. Canada joins the list (hopefully) in September whe nit opens up to vaccinated travellers, but the key challenge will be getting to and back from Canada given there are no direct flights between Singapore and Canada.

Italy currently imposes a 5-day self-isolation requirement (down from the previous 10 days) on inbound travellers. It’s unclear at the moment if we will get an exemption in time to come, but it never hurts to hope.

So, what’s next?

Singapore passport

Unfortunately for many who are hoping for an outright removal of the SHN requirements, this is not going to happen – yet.

However, it’s a step in the right direction as many observers have said. With Singapore’s vaccination rate on track towards 80% in six weeks’ time, things are looking up. Singapore has already announced a vaccine-differentiated regulations which will commence from 10 Aug 2021, so this will pave the way for how the future may look like.

The shift from a 14-day hotel-based SHN to a 14-day home-based SHN would just be the start, and the next two logical thresholds would be 7-day home-based SHN, and then no SHN at all, replaced by a system of testing on arrival. 

Final thoughts

There’s no doubt that Singapore, both regulators and citizens, are dying for borders to reopen.

The government has made clear its stance in more than once instead, such as in this Straits Times article:

The Ministry of Transport is also working on plans to open up “vaccinated travel lanes” that would allow people to travel between Singapore and selected countries without having to serve an SHN.

The SHN requirement would be replaced by frequent testing, Mr Ong said.

“Our companies cannot grow if businessmen and managers cannot travel overseas to meet clients and partners. MNCs (multinational corporations) will find it hard to invest here if their people are not able to travel in and out of Singapore,” he added.

“And if this continues, our ability to create jobs, earn a living will be seriously affected.”

The Straits Times, 6 Aug 2021

While this current relaxation of rules to allow SHN being served at home, this will unlikely open any floodgates for leisure travel, given the relatively long time of isolation required upon return. This, to us, is still essential at this point in time, given the level of community transmission we are still seeing even as we continue to vaccinate the population.

Another two worrying factors that may determine future policy changes are: firstly, possible future variants and their transmissibility. If we were to meet another variant even more transmissible and somewhat deadly than the current Delta variant, that would be a major cause for concern; secondly, the efficacy of the current vaccination regime and whether there’s need for boosters. These are important factors in public health policies and border controls, and if any of these are not favourable in the future, rules are unlikely to be further relaxed.

The next announcement will likely be in September, so we can only hope that we stay the course and pray for better news.

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