Singapore will suspend its reciprocal green lane arrangements with Malaysia, South Korea and Germany for three months starting tomorrow, in view of a resurgence of Covid-19 cases worldwide.
The Republic will review these green lane arrangements at the end of the period, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said yesterday. Green lanes allow essential travel for business or official purposes between two countries.
Travellers who have already been approved to enter Singapore under these arrangements can continue with their plans, MFA added.
Singapore had agreed on green lanes with Germany, Malaysia and South Korea in October, August and September respectively last year. Its other arrangement with Malaysia, the Periodic Commuting Arrangement, will not be affected.
This arrangement is meant for longer-term travel for work and business-related travel.
Singapore also has reciprocal green lanes with Japan and Indonesia but new applications have been put on hold.
Earlier this month, Japan suspended all its business track arrangements with other countries, including Singapore, until its state of emergency is lifted.
On Dec 28, Indonesia also announced a temporary ban on the entry of all foreign nationals.
That means only the green lanes with Brunei and a few cities in China are effectively open.
Across the world, the coronavirus has infected more than 102 million people as at yesterday, including 2.2 million people who died of it.
Indonesia, which has the most Covid-19 cases in South-east Asia, last week extended the closure of its borders to foreigners from Jan 26 to Feb 8. It reported a record high in daily cases of 14,518 as at yesterday, pushing its total tally to over 1.06 million.
Open green lanes
Singapore’s reciprocal green lanes that are still active:
• China (Chongqing, Jiangsu, Guangdong, Shanghai, Tianjin, Zhejiang)
SOURCE: IMMIGRATION AND CHECKPOINTS AUTHORITY WEBSITE
Malaysia reported 5,728 new cases as at yesterday, also breaking its record of 5,725 the day before. It now has 209,661 confirmed cases.
Starting today, France is banning non-essential travels from non-European Union countries to limit the spread of new variant cases from abroad.
While travel arrangements for business are valuable, the regions where Singapore’s reciprocal green lanes are suspended are generally those where nobody is travelling, internationally or domestically, because of the heightened Covid-19 risk.
So in that sense, with everyone on a similar playing field, Singapore will not be at a disadvantage, said Singapore University of Social Sciences associate professor of economics Walter Theseira.
“Covid-19 vaccines might protect travelling Singaporeans, but it wouldn’t protect them against border closures, flight cancellations, and not being able to get routine medical treatment in case of a healthcare crisis in the region they are at,” he added.
“It is also unlikely that the authorities would exempt them from border controls simply based on vaccination, given the lack of accepted vaccination standards internationally.”
Asked about the World Economic Forum slated to be held here in May, Professor Teo Yik Ying, dean of Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore, said it could be a challenge if the global Covid-19 situation continues to worsen.
“I believe the organisers will only proceed with an in-person meeting when they are confident the meeting can be conducted safely with little infection risk to the attendees and the hosting community,” he noted.