Public Health

To reopen borders, drop outdoor mask mandates

Office workers walk out for lunch break at Raffles Place financial business district in Singapore on January 4, 2022.

Roslan Rahman | AFP | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Singapore will ease most of its Covid restrictions including outdoor mask mandates starting March 29, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced Thursday.

Limits on social gatherings will be doubled from five to 10 people, more employees can return to offices and capacity limits for large events will be increased, Lee said in a national address.

Masks will still be needed indoors, and safe distancing of 1 meter between groups in mask-off settings will still be required.

Throughout the pandemic, Singapore has been more consistent and strict about measures such as mask mandates and traceability than most of the rest of the world.

Lee also said Singapore will “drastically streamline” testing and quarantine requirements, making travel abroad easier — “almost like before Covid-19.”

“Resume more normal lives, enjoy larger gatherings of family and friends, go outdoors without masks, or reunite with loved ones abroad,” Lee said. “But do not throw all caution to the wind.”

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He called on people to comply with the relaxed rules and test regularly.

Border measures

On travel restrictions and measures, all fully vaccinated travelers and non-fully vaccinated children aged 12 and below can enter Singapore without needing to apply for entry approvals starting April 1.

They will not be tested upon arrival in Singapore, Transport Minister S. Iswaran said at a press briefing.

Under current arrangements, fully vaccinated travelers have to enter Singapore on specific flights to avoid quarantines. They must also take an on-arrival antigen rapid test.

Pre-departure tests will be removed for people entering via land borders but will still be needed for those entering via air and sea routes.

Returning Singapore residents previously needed to pay for Covid-related medical bills if they tested positive within 14 days of their arrival, but will no longer need to with immediate effect.

The peak of the omicron wave in Singapore appears to have passed. New daily cases stood at 8,940 on Wednesday, down from a record 26,032 infections on Feb. 22.

The majority of people infected in Singapore have mild or no symptoms. Around 0.3% required oxygen supplementation over the last 28 days, and 0.04% were in the intensive care unit.

As of Tuesday, 92% of the population has completed the primary vaccination series, while 71% has received boosters.

Authorities announced a second booster dose for people 80 years old and over, people living in nursing homes and medically vulnerable people. The recommended time to take that shot is five months after the first booster dose.

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