By now, you would have heard the news that Singapore will be entering Phase 3 of its Safe Re-opening Phase from 28 Dec 2020. As we've been in Phase 2 since 19 Jun 2020, a lot of Singaporeans rejoiced upon hearing the news when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced it yesterday. But, what does it actually mean for you? And the bigger question to ask is how will this pave the way for us to resume travel safely in the future? Here's what you can expect for Phase 3 and our outlook on how it will impact travel in 2021.
In a nutshell, here's what you can expect for Phase 3:
- Social gatherings of up to 8 people will be allowed (up from 5 in Phase 2). Malls can also ease their capacity limit.
- Attractions can apply to operate at up to 65% capacity (up from 50% in Phase 2)
- Places of worship can increase the capacity of congregational services to 250 people in zones of 50 people each. (As of now, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) hasn't announced the new advisory for Friday prayers and other congregational services but do keep a lookout on their social media pages!)
- Up to 8 visitors can attend marriage solemnisations at home
- Up to 250 people can attend indoor live performances and pilots for outdoor performances (in zones of 50 people each)
Does this mean life is back to normal?
Well, certainly not. PM Lee mentioned that Phase 3 will last for while and so we can expect it to last for a year or possibly even more. There's also no change in safe distancing measures as well as wearing of masks. Singaporeans have also been urged to stay vigilant and to not be complacent with the situation.
Phase 3 and the outlook on travel
Attractions can operate up to 65% capacity
As attractions can start applying to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to increase their capacity to 65%, you can expect more crowds as you explore Singapore. Other than that, nothing much will change and measures like safe distancing, wearing of masks, as well as frequent sanitisation, will still be a standard protocol. We also foresee that booking of time slots at attractions will also continue in Phase 3.
But the good thing is that you can expect seasonal promotions or bundle deals for attractions and hotels as Singapore continues to promote local tourism. Not to mention that the SingapoRediscovers Vouchers
will also be valid till 30 Jun 2021.
Can I travel overseas yet? When will I be able to travel?
This is probably the most common question that many of us are asking. But the road to resuming travel is a long one. Vaccinations
, travel bubbles and strict safety protocols are a good start.
PM Lee said that international borders remain closed but he also mentioned that "trade and travel are Singapore's lifeblood". Inevitably, as the country opens up, there will be an increase in imported cases and some risk of those spreading to the community.
But one good news is that Singaporeans will be getting free COVID-19 vaccinations
on a voluntary basis with the first vaccine expected to arrive in Singapore by the end of the month. If all goes well, Singapore will have enough vaccines for everyone by the third quarter of 2021.
Elsewhere in the world, the US, UK, Malaysia, Indonesia (and more) have announced their vaccination plans. But that does not mean that borders will open freely even with vaccinations as there are many considerations.
More travel bubbles in the near future?
Our first hope of travelling overseas will probably be travel bubbles. Singapore's first air travel bubble with Hong Kong
might not have gone according to plan but the government has expressed its interest to create more travel bubbles in 2021
Singapore has also unilaterally opened its borders to several countries/territories where travellers can apply for a single-entry Air Travel Pass (ATP). Once they arrive in Singapore, they will have to take a COVID-19 PCR test and if cleared, they won't have to serve stay-home notice. The countries/territories are New Zealand, Brunei,
Australia, Vietnam, China and Taiwan (from 18 Dec 2020). Nearby, we have also forged reciprocal green lane agreements with Malaysia and Indonesia.
So, there is no doubt that Singapore will continue to have travel agreements with more countries in future and we are hopeful that we will be able to travel under an air travel bubble next year.
Elsewhere, countries like Thailand and the Maldives have opened their borders to travellers of all nationalities. Japan has also expressed its interest to open its borders to travellers in April 2021
Importance of safety protocols when travel resumes
What we foresee is that frequent COVID-19 testing
will still be required before you leave the country and when you arrive at your destination. The same will also apply when you're travelling back to Singapore from overseas. But it remains to be seen if COVID-19 vaccinations will change that requirement.
The Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas false-positive COVID-19 case
has also shown us that an effective set of safety protocols are needed so travel can resume safely.
With Singapore moving to Phase 3 in less than 2 weeks, it's definitely a positive sign for travel. With vaccinations and travel bubbles paving the way, we're hopeful that it won't be long before we'll get to travel safely again ?