Singapore, Vietnam looking at easing Covid-19 travel curbs for business and leisure

Passengers arrive at the Singapore Cruise Centre are screened by thermal scanners, on March 5, 2020.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

SINGAPORE, Jun 23, 2021, ST. Singapore and Vietnam are looking at gradually relaxing travel curbs for business and trips to selected tourist sites in the next few months, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said on Wednesday (June 23), The Straits Times reported.

However, such plans will depend on how fast Vietnam can vaccinate its population.

He was speaking at a doorstop via Zoom at the conclusion of a four-day visit to Vietnam capital Hanoi, where he met newly-appointed President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chính and Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh.

Dr Balakrishnan said the two nations share a similar strategy to contain the pandemic such as the need for intensive testing, quarantines and mass inoculation.

Vietnam has also imposed strict measures such as shutting non-essential businesses and restricting gatherings even before it began to battle its worst outbreak.

That started in late April from a church cluster in Ho Chi Minh City and factories in the country’s North.

Only about 2 per cent of its 98 million population are vaccinated.

“We have also discussed in the next few months, hopefully by the end of the year, how we can gradually and safely liberalise particularly on business travel, and perhaps on selected tourist sites.”

“But the key thing first is Vietnam needs some time to step up its vaccination programme – so we will wait for them to be ready.”

In the meantime, Dr Balakrishnan said both countries are engaged at the staff level to work on a mutual recognition of vaccine certificates and testing results to build confidence towards border reopening.

In new rules announced on May 7, travellers – who have stayed in Vietnam in the past consecutive 21 days – are subject to a 21-day quarantine in Singapore at dedicated facilities, with an option to serve the last seven days at their place of residence.

Vietnam has suspended the entry of all foreigners except diplomats, investors, experts and skilled workers.

Dr Balakrishnan said Vietnam has also expressed interest in Singapore technology like breathalyser test kits, adding that the Republic will help source and evaluate.

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