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No plans to impose Covid-19 vaccinations as condition for entry to Singapore: Ong Ye Kung

SINGAPORE – There are no plans to require travellers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter Singapore, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung on Monday (March 1).

“Instead, we will continue to use tests and stay-home notice (SHN) requirements to ensure that travellers do not bring the virus into our communities,” he said, noting that the country has been able to allow in some travellers over the past year without requiring them to be vaccinated.

He told the House that he will elaborate more on Singapore’s plans to reopen its borders during the debate on his ministry’s budget.

Mr Ong was responding to Mr Gan Thiam Poh (Ang Mo Kio GRC), on whether Singapore will only allow residents who have received vaccines approved by the Health Sciences Authority to travel to Singapore.

The minister also said it was premature to decide if border measures can be eased for vaccinated individuals, as well as whether there should be differentiation between vaccines for the purposes of implementing border measures.

This is because there is currently not enough scientific data available to help health authorities determine the extent to which vaccines can reduce the likelihood of an individual infecting others, said Mr Ong.

“Notwithstanding this, a no-regret step is to start working on a system of mutual recognition of vaccine certification between countries,” he added, noting that Singapore has put in place a system of digital vaccine certification that is tamper-proof and verifiable.

Singapore is also in discussions with the International Civil Aviation Organisation as well as various countries on the mutual recognition of such certifications.

“Such bilateral consultations and discussions will take some time,” said Mr Ong.

The new digital certification system is based on HealthCerts, an open-source framework for issuing digital Covid-19 test result certificates, and is developed by the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) and the Ministry of Health.

Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) also asked when the next review of safe management measures at the workplace will be conducted, and the considerations for such a review.

Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said the authorities will need to look at how the community cases develop, especially after the Chinese New Year festive period.

The Government will monitor the Covid-19 situation for a few weeks to assess when public health measures, including safe management measures for workplaces, can be adjusted, he added.

Asked by Mr Seah whether vaccination will play a role in determining workplace safe management measures, Mr Zaqy said vaccinated employees should continue to observe basic safe management measures until enough people are vaccinated.

“We are still monitoring the duration of the vaccine’s protection and its effectiveness in preventing transmission of Covid-19.”

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