The Ultimate Singaporean's Guide to COVID-19 Travel Restrictions and Precautionary Measures
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The Ultimate Singaporean's Guide to COVID-19 Travel Restrictions and Precautionary Measures

Kenneth Fong
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So far, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected more than 150 countries worldwide.

Back home more and more border restrictions and precautionary measures have been introduced.

This follows the advisory released by Ministry of Health (MOH) advising Singaporeans to defer ALL travel abroad with immediate effect from 18 March 2020.

Yep.

It’s official.

Say goodbye to all of your travel plans and holiday dreams for a while.

Squidward Deflating
Source: SpongeBob SquarePants | giphy

(you might want to see if you can a refund with these airlines travel waiver policies…)

Just so you understand the severity of the situation right now.

Here’s a look at the countries with travel restrictions due to COVID-19 and the precautionary measures announced by the Singapore government to help stop the spread.


TL;DR: Should I (Still) Travel Now And What Will Happen If I Do?

The fact that WHO has declared COVID-19 a pandemic means that most countries have put travel restrictions, suspensions, and bans in place.

In order to reduce the risk of Singaporeans being infected when overseas and spreading it to other Singaporeans when they return.

Our government has also advised all Singaporeans to defer non-essential travel overseas and implemented precautionary measures like:

  • Penalties for Individuals Who Disregard the Travel Advisory
  • Leave of Absence
  • Stay-Home Notice
  • Quarantine Order
  • Safe Distancing Measures

Long story short?

Don’t siao (Hokkien: crazy)… just stay home and practice social distancing.

It goes without saying that you SHOULD NOT TRAVEL NOW.

Unsure what the different precautionary measures are and wondering what happens if you decide not to follow them (word of advice: highly NOT recommended)?

You might want to refer to this first:

COVID-19 Precautionary MeasuresDisregard of Travel AdvisoryLeave of AbsenceStay-Home NoticeQuarantine OrderSafe Distancing Measures
Applied ToSingapore resident or Long Term Pass holder who leave Singapore in disregard of prevailing travel advisoriesAll arrivals from overseas between 14 and 20 Mar 2020All arrivals from overseas after 20 Mar 2020, 11:50pm

Note: returnees from UK and US will need to serve their SHN in a dedicated facility
Individuals issued a 5-day MC due to acute respiratory symptomsInfected or suspected to be a carrier OR have come into contact with a confirmed caseEntertainment venues
Tuition & enrichment centres
Faith-based activities
Events
How Long Is It?Till further notice14 days14 days5 daysUntil medically dischargedTill 30 Apr 2020
When Does It Start?From 27 Mar 2020Upon arrival in SingaporeUpon arrival in SingaporeOn the day the MC is issuedOn the day the QO is issuedFrom 26 Mar 2020, 11:59pm
What Do I Need to Do?Not leave the country due to the prevailing travel advisoriesStay home but can leave for essentials like foodStay home AT ALL TIMES and arrange for delivery of food and essentialsStay home AT ALL TIMES and arrange for delivery of food and essentials, UNLESS seeking medical attentionStay home or in the quarantine facility AT ALL TIMES, food and essentials will be providedLimit gatherings outside work and school to 10 persons or fewer

Adhere to 1m physical distancing in non-transient interactions
Penalty under Infectious Disease ActCharged unsubsidised rates for inpatient stay at public hospitals if admitted for suspected COVID-19 and have onset of symptoms

Singapore residents will also not be able to claim from MediShield Life or Integrated Shield Plans for treatments at public and private hospitals
Nothing official but still NOT recommendedFirst offence
Up to $10,000 fine OR 6 months imprisonment OR Both

Second or subsequent offence
Up to $20,000 fine OR 12 months imprisonment OR Both
What Kind of Leave Do I Need to Take?Annual or Unpaid Leave

OR

Paid Leave granted by company
Annual or Unpaid Leave

OR

Paid Leave granted by company
Sick LeaveHospitalisation Leave
Government SupportEr... none?!$100 per day under the Leave Of Absence/Stay-Home Notice Support Programme$100 per day under the Leave Of Absence/Stay-Home Notice Support Programme$100 per day under the Quarantine Order Allowance Scheme

Which Countries Have COVID-19 Travel Restrictions?

If the advisories, penalties, and global reports of COVID-19 cases on the rise don’t scare you.

Here’s a list of countries and the COVID-19 travel restrictions that they have put in place.

Countries Which Singaporeans Should Avoid
ChinaDefer all travel to Hubei province and non-essential trips to mainland China
Other countriesDefer all non-essential travel to Iran, northern Italy, Japan, and South Korea
Countries and Regions Restricting Entry or Screening Travellers From Singapore
IndiaAvoid non-essential travel to Singapore

Arrivals from Singapore will be screened
IsrealAvoid non-essential travel to Singapore

Ban on foreign nationals who have been in Singapore in last 14 days
KuwaitAvoid travel to Singapore

Kuwaiti citizens in Singapore to leave immediately
OmanAvoid travel to Singapore
QatarAvoid non-urgent travel to Singapore
South KoreaAvoid travel to Singapore
Thailand Recommend against travel to Singapore

2-week self quarantine recommended for those coming from virus-hit countries
Countries and Regions That Have Barred or Restricted Travellers From Other Countries
Australia14-day self-isolation for all international travellers arriving in the country and ban on cruise ships from foreign ports for 30 days

Ban on travellers from Italy, South Korea, Iran, and China
Beijing2-week in quarantine facilities for all arrivals
Bhutan14-day quarantine for visitors with travel history to virus-hit countries
Britain14-day self-quarantine for visitors from South Korea and areas in Italy under lockdown

Avoid all travel to Hubei and non-essential trips anywhere
CanadaAvoid all travel to Hubei and non-essential trips to China
China2-week quarantine for travellers who have been to France, Spain, Germany, United States, South Korea, Italy, Iran, Britain, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Netherlands, Denmark, and Austria in past 14 days
DenmarkBan on all foreign nationals for a month starting 14 Mar 2020
EgyptBan on all flights from 19 Mar 2020
El SalvadorBan on all visitors
GermanyBorder controls with Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, and Denmark
Hong Kong2-week quarantine for all arrivals
IndiaScreening of all arrivals from China, South Korea, Japan, Iran, Italy, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal, Thailand, Singapore, and Taiwan

Ban on travellers from whole of Europe, Britain, Turkey, Malaysia, Afghanistan, and the Philippines
IndonesiaBan on entry and transit of visitors who have in the past 14 days been to France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Vatican City, Britain, Iran, China and South Korea's Daegu city and Gyeongsangbuk-do
IranBan on Chinese citizens entering country
IraqBan on travel to and from Iran

Closure of only border crossing with Kuwait
IsraelBan on all foreign nationals who've been in China, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong Macau, Japan, South Korea and Italy in last 14 days
Japan14-day quarantine for all arrivals from China and South Korea
MalaysiaBan on all foreign visitors entering country

Malaysian citizens barred from travelling abroad
MongoliaBan on all flights to and from Japan and South Korea until 11 Mar
New Zealand14-day self-isolation for all international arrivals

Ban on foreign nationals who have been in Iran and China in last 14 days
OmanBan on all non-Gulf Cooperation Council citizens as of 17 Mar 2020
PhilippinesSuspension of all travel to and from Luzon and Metro Manila

Travel ban on South Korea's North Gyeongsang province
Poland14-day quarantine for returning citizens

Ban on all foreign nationals
QatarBan on all non-Qatari visitors for 2 weeks starting 18 Mar 2020
Saudi Arabia2-week suspension of all international flights starting from 15 Mar 2020
South KoreaBan on all foreign nationals who have been in Hubei in last 14 days
ThailandUnwell travellers returning from virus-hit countries are advised to contact medical institutes to receive treatment or be isolated
United Arab EmiratesTests conducted on arrivals from China, Italy, Lebanon, and Thailand

Suspension of flights from UAE to Iran, Bahrain and most of mainland China
United StatesBan on foreign nationals who've been in mainland China or Iran in last 14 days

Suspension of all travel from Europe for 30 days starting 13 Mar 2020

Yep, there’s nowhere safe.

So… where you wanna go sia?

Also, airlines like Singapore Airlines have suspended flights in a bid to stem the coronavirus outbreak.

So you might be able to catch a flight out, but there’s no promise that you’ll be able to make your way back home…

Individuals Who Disregard the Travel Advisory

In spite of this, MOH has noted that there are still Singaporeans and Long Term Pass holders who continue to travel abroad even after the Government has issued travel advisories.

Ryan Reynolds Going But Why
Source: Giphy

This is totally NOT kosher as they risk the health of other Singaporeans and residents when they return.

From 27 March 2020, any Singapore resident or Long Term Pass holder who leaves Singapore despite the prevailing travel advisories.

Will be charged unsubsidised rates for their inpatient stay at public hospitals if they’re admitted for suspected COVID-19 and have onset of symptoms within 14 days of returning to Singapore.

They will also not be able to claim from MediShield Life or Integrated Shield Plans for seeking treatment at public and private hospitals.

Fierce.

But necessary.

COVID-19 Precautionary Measures in Singapore

When it comes to procedures and SOPs, you can count on the Singapore government to come up with precautionary measures to stop the spread.

So far, there are:

  • Leave of Absence (least severe)
  • Stay-Home Notice
  • Quarantine Order
  • Safe Distancing Measures (most severe)

What are they? And what happens if you don’t adhere to them?

Let’s find out.

Leave of Absence (LOA)

A Leave of Absence (LOA) is the least severe precautionary measure.

You are urged to be socially responsible in order to prevent the possible transmission of infections.

If you’re on LOA, you SHOULD:

  • remain in your home or place of residence as much as possible
  • refrain from or minimise having visitors over
  • maintain a record of people whom you have come into close contact with

You may leave your home or place of residence for daily necessities or to attend important matters.

However, you must minimise your time spent in public spaces.

And, naturally, minimise your contact with others.

Who Will Be Issued a Leave of Absence?

Prior to the mandatory 14-day stay-home requirement for all those entering Singapore, which kicked in on 20 Mar 2020, 11:59pm.

Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has released an advisory urging companies to impose an LOA on employees who returned from overseas – mostly after travelling during the March school holidays.

Students and school staff members who travelled between 14 and 20 March 2020 will also be placed on a 14-day LOA from the date of their return.

How Do I Count the LOA Period?

Erm… using your fingers?

Kidding.

It’s 14 days in total.

So assuming you arrive back in Singapore on 1 April 2020, you can only start work from 16 April 2020 onwards.

Or just key in your date of arrival in MOM’s LOA/SHN Calculator to get a definitive date.

Do I Need to Take Paid Leave to Serve the LOA?

It depends.

According to MOM, companies are encouraged to allow employees on LOA to work from home.

If that’s not possible, you’ll most probably have to take unpaid leave or no-pay leave to serve the LOA.

Alternatively, employers can choose to provide additional paid leave for affected employees.

If they do so, they can apply for $100 daily support under the LOA/SHN Support Programme (LOASP) for each affected employee.

Note: only Singaporeans, Permanent Residents, and work pass holders are covered under this initiative.

What If I Breach the LOA?

Well, there aren’t any formal actions that will be taken against you…

SpongeBob SquarePants Getting Out of His Couch and Heading Out
Source: SpongeBob SquarePants | Giphy

BUT DON’T BE BODOH (Malay: stupid) and play ball can?

Just stay home, practice social distancing, and avoid crowded places.

Need food?

I highly recommend using our food delivery promo codes to get what you need.


Stay-Home Notice (SHN)

A Stay-Home Notice (SHN) is a precautionary measure that is stricter than a Leave Of Absence.

If you are placed on SHN, you MUST:

  • remain in your home or place of residence AT ALL TIMES
  • not invite visitors into your home or place of residence

Who Will Be Issued a Stay-Home Notice?

As of 20 March 2020, 11:59pm, all Singapore residents returning to the country will be placed on a 14-day Stay-Home Notice.

But because the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US) account for the largest share of imported cases so far…

From 25 March 2020, 11:59pm, all returnees from the United Kingdom and the United States will be placed on a 14-day SHM, which will be served in dedicated facilities.

This is all part of the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority’s COVID-19 Border Control Measures:

If You've Travelled To These Countries/Regions In The Last 14 DaysSingapore Residents
Long-Term Pass Holders
Short-Term Visitors
Hubei province
(Mainland China)
14-day QuarantineNot allowed entry or transit
United Kingdom
United States
14-day Stay-Home Notice in dedicated facilities
All other countries and, or regions14-day Stay-Home Notice

If you’re not returning from anywhere and are already in Singapore.

There’s a modified version of the SHN which will be extended to you if you’re issued a medical certificate (MC) due to acute respiratory symptoms.

From 26 March 2020, 11:59pm, you must stay home for all five days starting on the day your 5-day MC is issued.

You can ONLY leave your home if you’re seeking medical treatment.

Naturally, going out for bak kut teh is out of the question…

How Do I Count the SHN Period?

It’s similar to the 14-days you have to serve for an LOA.

Assuming you arrive in or back in Singapore on 1 April 2020, you can only start work from 16 April 2020 onwards.

Or just use MOM’s LOA/SHN Calculator.

Note: the SHN applies immediately upon arrival. DO NOT go out for bak kut teh and think that the SHN only starts on the next day

What Should I Do During the Stay-Home Notice Period?

Not much actually, just abide by these rules:

Must Dos
Remain in your place of residence at ALL TIMESEven if it is to purchase food and essentials. Opt for home delivery services or enlist the assistance of others.
Minimise contact with others and avoid having visitorsMaintain a record of people you come into close contact with during this period.
Check for Symptoms
Monitor your health closelyTwice daily for fever (≥ 38°C) and respiratory symptoms such as cough and breathlessness
Observe Good Personal Hygiene
Maintain good personal hygieneWash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially before and after handling food, and after going to the toilet
Do not touch your faceJust don't
Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezingBest with a tissue, if not, wash your hands with soap and water after covering your mouth
Ensure your place of residence is clean and well-ventilatedI mean, who likes living in a dirty environment, right?
Do not shareFood, crockery, utensils, and other personal hygiene items

and you should be fine.

Do I Need to Take Paid Leave to Serve the SHN?

Similar to the management of LOA, it depends.

If your company allows you to work from home while you serve your SHM, then great.

Otherwise, you might need to apply for no-pay or unpaid leave to serve out the SHN.

And if your employer decides to provide you with additional paid leave in light of the SHN.

They can apply for a $100 daily support under the LOA/SHN Support Programme (LOASP) for each affected employee.

What Happens If I Am Issued a Stay-Home Notice?

You’ll be issued an official hard-copy notice upon arrival at Singapore’s checkpoints.

To ensure that you adhere to the SHN, MOM will contact you via SMS, video calls, or inspections.

MOM Sample Stay-Home Notice Message Check
Source: MOM

If you receive a text message, you’ll need to give an update of your location via GPS on your mobile phone.

And if you get a phone call, you must take photos of your surroundings to verify your whereabouts.

What If I Do Not Comply With the SHN?

If you fail to comply with the SHN, you may face the following penalties:

Penalties For Failure To Comply With SHN or QOFirst OffenceSecond or Subsequent Offence
Prosecuted under Section 21A of the Infectious Disease ActA fine not exceeding $10,000

OR

Imprisonment not exceeding 6 months

OR

BOTH
A fine not exceeding $20,000

OR

Imprisonment not exceeding 12 months

OR

BOTH
If You're A:
Permanent Resident
Long-Term Visit Pass Holder
Dependant's Pass Holder
Student Pass Holder
Re-Entry Permit or passes may be revoked or the validity shortened
If You're A Foreign Employee with a work passWork pass may be revoked
If your child or ward is a full-time student attending preschool, school or other educational institutionsSubject to disciplinary action including suspension or dismissal

Note: for foreign students this may include cancellation of Student Pass or Dependant's Pass

Yep.

It’s no laughing matter.


Quarantine Order

A Quarantine Order (QO) is a legal order issued under the Infectious Diseases Act and is the strictest form of precautionary measure you can be issued with.

This is used to quarantine or isolate a person who is or is suspected to be:

  • a carrier of an infectious disease
  • contact of a person confirmed to have an infectious disease

The QO is usually served at home.

But can also be served in dedicated Government Quarantine Facilities (GQFs) or hospitals.

What Should I Do During the Quarantine Order Period?

You should avoid contact with others to prevent the possibility of spread of the virus through person-to-person contact.

Meaning you will need to be isolated from and cannot physically interact with others living in the same premises.

A home quarantine package with basic necessities will be provided.

You’ll also need to monitor your temperature and report your health status at least three times a day.

If you feel unwell or need any assistance, you should inform your Quarantine Order Agent immediately.

Do I Need to Take Paid Leave to Serve the Quarantine Order?

If you’re serving the Home Quarantine Order, your absence from work should be treated as paid hospitalisation leave (as defined in the Employment Act).

If you’ve used up your paid hospitalisation leave, MOM has urged employers to exercise compassion and flexibility by granting additional paid hospitalisation leave.

Your employer can apply for a $100 daily support under the Quarantine Order Allowance Scheme.

What Happens If I Am Issued a Quarantine Order?

Similar to the SHN, you will be monitored by video calls at least three times a day.

Spot checks will also be carried out to ensure that you adhere to the QO.

If you are found to be non-compliant, you may be required to wear an electronic tag or might be detained and isolated in a hospital or dedicated quarantine facility.

What If I Breach the Quarantine Order?

Similar to the SHN, you can be charged under Section 21A of the Infectious Disease Act.

Penalties For Failure To Comply With SHN or QOFirst OffenceSecond or Subsequent Offence
Prosecuted under Section 21A of the Infectious Disease ActA fine not exceeding $10,000

OR

Imprisonment not exceeding 6 months

OR

BOTH
A fine not exceeding $20,000

OR

Imprisonment not exceeding 12 months

OR

BOTH
If You're A:
Permanent Resident
Long-Term Visit Pass Holder
Dependant's Pass Holder
Student Pass Holder
Re-Entry Permit or passes may be revoked or the validity shortened
If You're A Foreign Employee with a work passWork pass may be revoked
If your child or ward is a full-time student attending preschool, school or other educational institutionsSubject to disciplinary action including suspension or dismissal

Note: for foreign students this may include cancellation of Student Pass or Dependant's Pass

So just stay put and maybe try these free or affordable things to do since you’re stuck at home.


Safe Distancing Measures

You’re probably wondering, “Safe distancing measures got more serious than Quarantine Order meh?”

Well… considering that most countries have imposed total lockdowns, which have significantly disrupted lives and economies throughout the world.

The fact that the Government has introduced safe distancing measures which are enforced by the Infectious Disease Act means that sh*t just got very, VERY real.

Frankly, if the situation gets worse, I wouldn’t be surprised if Singapore imposes a total lockdown too.

(Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion, don’t quote me, please. Kthxbye.)

As of 26 March 2020, 11:59pm, the measures in place would limit gatherings outside of work and school to 10 persons or fewer.

In addition, at least 1m of physical distance should be adhered to at all times in settings where interactions are non-transient.

On top of that, a myriad of places and public spaces have been closed or had their operations suspended like:

  • Bars and entertainment venues (night clubs, discos, cinemas, theatres, and karaoke outlets)
  • Tuition and enrichment centres
  • Faith-based activities (temples, mosques, churches)
  • Events (conferences, exhibitions, festivals, concerts, sporting events, trade fairs)

What If I Don’t Adhere To Safe Distancing Measures?

Similar to the SHN and QO, you can be charged under Section 21A of the Infectious Disease Act.

Penalties For Failure To Comply With SHN or QOFirst OffenceSecond or Subsequent Offence
Prosecuted under Section 21A of the Infectious Disease ActA fine not exceeding $10,000

OR

Imprisonment not exceeding 6 months

OR

BOTH
A fine not exceeding $20,000

OR

Imprisonment not exceeding 12 months

OR

BOTH
If You're A:
Permanent Resident
Long-Term Visit Pass Holder
Dependant's Pass Holder
Student Pass Holder
Re-Entry Permit or passes may be revoked or the validity shortened
If You're A Foreign Employee with a work passWork pass may be revoked
If your child or ward is a full-time student attending preschool, school or other educational institutionsSubject to disciplinary action including suspension or dismissal

Note: for foreign students this may include cancellation of Student Pass or Dependant's Pass

Yep.

So if you fail to sit or queue 1m apart from others…

That could land you a fine or a jail term.

Even more reason to just stay home.

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About Kenneth Fong
Editor of Seedly's blog. Owner of a 4-room HDB BTO and married to a financial clutz. Probably the closest to an adult you can find on the Seedly team.
You can contribute your thoughts like Kenneth Fong here.

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