Singapore to allow visitors from Brunei, New Zealand

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 21 2020 10:45 PM | Updated as of Aug 21 2020 10:47 PM

Singapore to allow visitors from Brunei, New Zealand 1
The 40-meter high Rain Vortex, which is the world's tallest indoor waterfall, is seen from inside Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore, April 11, 2019. Feline Lim, Reuters/File

SINGAPORE - Singapore will allow travelers from Brunei and New Zealand to visit starting in September, in a "small, cautious step" by the virus-hit aviation hub to restart air travel, officials said Friday.

The city-state closed its borders in March to tourists and short-term visitors and later implemented a partial lockdown as coronavirus outbreaks swept through dormitories housing hundreds of thousands of migrant workers.

Arrivals from Brunei and New Zealand will be subject to a virus test in lieu of a 14-day quarantine.

Transport minister Ong Ye Kung said the move aims to strike a balance between controlling the spread of the virus and reviving air travel, a key driver of the trade-and tourism-reliant economy.

"All in all, I think this is a small cautious step to start to reopen aviation and resuscitate Changi Airport," he told reporters on Friday.

"Remember, as a small open economy, to survive we've got to keep our borders open. To earn a living, (we) gotta have connections with the world and to thrive and to prosper, we must be an aviation hub."

Brunei and New Zealand were chosen as they are small countries and have controlled the virus very well, Ong said, adding the move was unilateral.

The quarantine period has also been cut from 14 to 7 days for travelers from low-risk regions including Australia -- excluding Victoria state -- China, Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Ong said last week Changi Airport used to move 1,000 aircraft a day but this number had fallen to 150.