Singapore widens border restrictions, ceases port calls for cruises in Covid-19 fight

Singapore has implemented a range of sweeping measures, including wider border restrictions, social distancing measures, and ceasing port calls for all cruise vessels to curb the spread of the Covid-19, after it was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on Wednesday.

The measures include additional travel advisories to Singaporeans against non-essential travel to countries hard hit by the coronavirus.

Singapore will cease port calls for all cruise vessels as part of new measures to combat Covid-19

From 23.59 on Sunday (March 15), all visitors who have been to Italy, France, Spain and Germany within the last 14 days will be banned from setting foot in the country, according to a Ministry of Health (MOH) statement released today.

As well, from 23.59 on Sunday, Singaporeans and permanent residents who have been to Italy, France, Spain and Germany within the last 14 days will be issued a stay-home notice (SHN), which means they will be required to stay home at all times for 14 days upon return to Singapore.

The notice will also apply to long-term pass holders with recent travel history to these countries within the last 14 days.

Furthermore, travellers showing any signs of fever or respiratory symptoms at the checkpoints will need to serve a 14-day SHN, even if their swab test results for Covid-19 were negative.

Singapore will also cease port calls for all cruise vessels with immediate effect.

As well, all ticketed events with 250 participants or more are to be cancelled or postponed, including cultural, entertainment and sporting events, in line with the government’s social distancing measures.

For events that have already been committed to, like in the case that tickets have been sold, organisers must adhere to precautionary measures set by MOH before they can proceed.

Participants could be seated at least one metre apart from one another, and reduce contact with others such as by not shaking hands, said MOH in the release.

Employers are also advised to put in place measures to reduce close contact, such as implementing tele-commuting and video-conferencing, staggering work hours, and allowing employees to commute at off-peak hours. Seating in meeting rooms and work stations could also be spaced apart.

For public venues, measures to reduce close contact by patrons or customers could include setting seats at least a metre apart at dining venues. Entertainment venues and tourist attractions, including casinos, cinemas, theme parks, museums, and galleries, could limit the number of visitors at any one time, and increase spacing among visitors.

In addition, sports centres with indoor facilities, such as gyms and private academies, could limit the number of patrons, introduce physical separation measures, increase the frequency of cleaning, as well as issue advisories to reduce unnecessary contact, and practice public hygiene.

The measures were announced by minister for health Gan Kim Yong and minister for national development Lawrence Wong, who chair the multi-ministry task force on tackling the virus.

Gan said that the island country is increasingly seeing more imported cases, and warned that more are expected with the surge in cases globally, highlighting the importance of border control restrictions.

He added: “But even as we continue to tighten, we know it is not possible to close borders, we need to ensure measures are sustainable in the long term, and that life can go on.”

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