(PTI): Singapore will stop the entry or transit to visitors with recent travel history to Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka from May 2 following “deterioration” of coronavirus situation in India, a government task force said on Friday.
The ban covers all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors who have been in the four countries in the last 14 days, including transit, according to Channel News Asia.
It will also apply to those who have obtained prior entry approval from Singapore authorities, said co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force Lawrence Wong.
Those with recent travel history to the four countries, who are serving a 14-day stay-home notice in Singapore as of May 3, will have this extended by another seven days at dedicated stay-home facilities.
They will also have to take a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on their arrival, on the 14th day of their stay-home notice, and before the end of their 21-day notice.
These measures come after a “deterioration” in the COVID-19 situation in India, with the infection spreading beyond India to the surrounding countries, said Mr Wong. From April 23, Singapore has already banned visitors from India, which is battling a surge of infections.
India is struggling with a second wave of the pandemic with more than 3,00,000 daily new coronavirus cases being reported in the past few days, and hospitals are reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds.
India saw 3,86,452 new coronavirus infections in a span of 24 hours, the highest single-day rise so far, pushing the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 1,87,62,976, while active cases crossed the 31-lakh mark, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Friday.
In addition, all travellers entering Singapore from May 3 with travel history to Thailand in the past 14 days will have to serve a 14-day stay-home notice at a dedicated facility. Currently, they are allowed to serve the notice at their place of residence.
They may not opt out of the dedicated facilities, even if they have obtained prior approval.
In view of the growing number of COVID-19 community cases, the Ministry of Health said on Friday that individuals should limit their social interactions.
While the current eight-person limit on unique household visitors and gatherings in public places remains in place, MOH’s guidance is that such social interactions should be capped at two per day.
“Over the past week, we have seen an increase in the number of local cases, some of which are currently unlinked and have resulted in the formation of community clusters,” the ministry said in a media release.
“We therefore have to move quickly to reduce the level of interactions in the community and break the chains of transmission.
“Going forward, all individuals should limit their overall number of social interactions, to not more than two per day, whether visiting another household or meeting with friends/family members in a public place,” the media report quoted the Ministry as saying.
Meanwhile, media reports said that additional COVID-19 measures will also be implemented from Saturday until May 14.
From Saturday, the occupancy limit at malls and large standalone stores will be reduced to one person per 10 sq m of gross floor area, down from the current one person per 8 sq m.
Odd and even date entry restrictions will also be reinstated at popular malls Lucky Plaza and Peninsula Plaza on Sundays. These restrictions were previously lifted on April 10 after being in place for nearly eight months.
Outdoor barbecue pits and campsites will also be closed to the public until May 14.
These include barbecue pits at parks, housing estates, condominiums and country clubs.
Finally, attractions that have received prior approval from the Ministry of Trade and Industry will have to reduce their operating capacity from 65 per cent to 50 per cent from May 7 to 14.
Minister Wong said that these measures are necessary even if they are inconvenient.
“We know these new restrictions will, you know, create inconvenience for everyone. It”s not easy, because in the month of May, there are three public holidays. We have May Day coming up tomorrow, Hari Raya (Eid) later on, and then Vesak Day (a Chinese buddhist day), towards the end of May,” he said.
“I know many are looking forward to these public holidays – you will have made plans, you may want to gather together, you may want to socialise, meet your family and friends – but I seek everyone”s cooperation to scale back your social activities and comply with all the prevailing rules.
“This is the only way we can ensure that we slow down the spread of the virus in the community,” the Minister said. PTI GS AMS AKJ AMS