Singapore plans to lift SHN for vaccinated travellers from September

From September, vaccinated travelers from selected countries may be able to enter Singapore without a 14-day SHN. Here's what we know.

Ever since the MOH issued an advisory against all non-essential travel on 15 March 2020, Singaporeans who venture overseas have faced a 14-day SHN upon return, at their own expense. This amounted to a de facto ban on leisure travel for all but the most determined of travellers. 

But with vaccination rates rising and the thinking shifting to endemic COVID-19, there’s finally some light at the end of the tunnel. From September 2021, the Singapore government plans to reopen borders to vaccinated travelers from selected countries, who will either do testing on arrival, or at most a 7-day SHN at home.

No more14-day SHN for vaccinated travelers

Here’s the current SHN regime by country, which applies regardless of vaccination status. 

Arriving From SHN Duration
🇧🇳 Brunei N/A
🇨🇳 China N/A
🇳🇿 New Zealand N/A
🇦🇺 Australia 7 days at place of residence
🇭🇰 Hong Kong SAR 7 days at place of residence
🇲🇴 Macao SAR 7 days at place of residence
🌏 All other countries 14 days in SDF*
*SDF= SHN Dedicated Facility. Arrivals from Israel and Taiwan may serve the SHN at their place of residence

With Singapore’s vaccination rate expected to hit 80% in early September, the government is planning to recalibrate measures for arrivals from selected countries, replacing the 14-day SHN in a dedicated facility with a “rigorous testing regime”, or at most a 7-day SHN at home. 

Of course, this carrot will only be for those who are fully vaccinated (defined as 14 days after your second dose). Here’s how Lawrence Wong positioned it in parliament:

It will start by setting up travel corridors with countries or regions that have “managed COVID-19 well”, and where the infection is under control. 

“So fully vaccinated persons will then be able to travel to these countries or regions without needing to serve the full 14-day stay-home notice in a hotel when they return,” Mr Wong said.

Depending on the risk level of the country they visit, the stay-home notice will be replaced with a “rigorous testing regime” or a seven-day isolation period at home.

This will allow vaccinated people to travel more freely, he said. “Those who are not vaccinated can still travel, but will be subject to the prevailing SHN (stay-home notice) requirements.”

While I’m hoping that more countries will be in the “rigorous testing regime” category rather than the 7-day SHN at home, either way would be a huge leap forward from the current status quo. 

Where can vaccinated Singaporeans go? 

Soon…

So where might Singaporeans be traveling to in September? There are two parts of the question to consider:

  • Which countries will admit vaccinated Singaporeans without quarantine?
  • Which countries will Singapore admit vaccinated travelers from without quarantine?

With regards to the former, Wego has put together a very useful tool that shows at a glance which countries waive quarantine for vaccinated Singaporeans. 

Dark green= Open without testing | Light green= Open with testing | Other colors= quarantine required or not open

This list currently features 128 countries and territories, mostly in the EU. Notable names include France, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Denmark, the Maldives, UK and USA. 

However, that’s only half the picture. As mentioned in parliament, the plan is to set up travel corridors with countries and regions that have “managed COVID-19 well”. In a recent interview with The Straits Times, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung suggested the following heuristic:

“Once a place’s (Covid-19) infection rate is going down, vaccinations are going up and you go below, say, two or three infections per 100,000, we should start monitoring those countries seriously.”

Here’s what the figures look like for selected countries popular with Singapore travelers: 

Country 🠗 New Cases Per 100,000 Fully Vaccinated
UK 57.3 55%
Spain 55.4 54%
Netherlands 37.8 48%
France 27.9 44%
Thailand 19.3 5.1%
USA 15.7 49%
Turkey 13.7 27%
Denmark 13.5 49%
Switzerland 7.8 46%
Italy 7.1 47%
Vietnam 6.7 0.4%
Japan 3.3 23%
South Korea 3.0 13%
Germany 1.9 49%
Australia 0.6 13%
Taiwan 0.1 1%
New Zealand ~0 13%
Hong Kong ~0 29%
New cases refers to seven-day average. Data as of 25 July 2021 from Bloomberg and NY Times

Unfortunately, the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant means that only a handful of countries fall below the 2-3 infections per 100,000 threshold. When I last looked at these figures two weeks ago, Switzerland, Italy and France all fell into this range; now they’re considerably higher. 

It’s also clear that neither Australia nor New Zealand intend to open their borders anytime soon, and the ATB with Hong Kong might be in jeopardy over differences in COVID-19 strategy.

Ultimately it’s a two-way street, and we’ll need to see what criteria the Singapore government sets for “managing COVID-19 well”.

Should you start making plans now?

While there’s considerable excitement about this development (and rightfully so), the past 18 months are a lesson in expectations management. I don’t see anything wrong with making a few speculative bookings, so long as they’re:

  • Flexible: Most airlines are offering a waiver of change fees, but you’re unlikely to get a refund unless your flight is cancelled. Award tickets would be the way to go here, since you can usually get your miles back with a small penalty
  • Direct: Adding a third-country transit is bound to cause complications, especially if it’s a route with fifth freedom rights (i.e. where passengers from the transit country board)

This isn’t the time to be trying all sorts of tricks with positioning flights, that’s for sure! 

You’ll also want to look for a travel insurance plan that incorporates COVID-19 coverage. NTUC Income and Sompo are two such providers, and I’m sure this list will grow once borders reopen. You can also be certain that vaccination will be an essential pre-requisite for COVID-19 claims. 

Conclusion

Singapore plans to lift the SHN requirement for vaccinated arrivals from selected countries in September, the first step towards reopening borders. Of course there’s a lot of details to be worked out, such as: 

  • What happens to those who are aged under 12 or unable to be vaccinated for legitimate medical reasons?
  • Will transiting in a country with a higher COVID-19 risk require you to serve quarantine on return to Singapore?
  • Will Sinovac-inoculated individuals be entitled to the same concessions those vaccinated with Moderna/Pfizer?

We’ll no doubt get more details in August, so until then, sit tight. 

Which countries are you betting on for September?

Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion with the intention of helping people travel better for less and impressing chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Stefan

I hope that Long-Term Pass Holders such as EPs residing in Singapore will also be able to make use of these travel corridors, without needing to beg their employer to apply for a re-entry approval and praying that it gets approved.

SIA and Changi would receive up to 50% of my paycheck a few months in a row. 😄

George

It stands to reason that LTP would have the same concessions as Singaporeans today as well (ability to reenter the country with 14 day SHN) but gahmen say cannot. Multiple families split, people not able to see their dying loved ones or attend any important social event back home, all in the fear of losing their jobs if they are stuck out of Singapore. An unvaccinated Singaporean traveling for leisure today can reenter from any of “All other countries” specified above. A fully vaccinated LTP who had to return home to see their dying family memebers are not allowed re… Read more »

True Singapore

It’s attitudes like this that gives Singapore a terrible name. Please remember for every xenophobic keyboard warrior with comments like this there are more liberal welcoming people who appreciate people from all walks of life.

Ah long

Ceca lovers spotted

Happy Camper

as of 5pm today, confirmed J bookings in Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May… and WL F in Jun..

🕺🏻
😆

ZYX

Do we still have direct flights to Fiji now?

Ryan

Love the table you’ve put together with vaccination rates! I was doing a similar data study a few days ago — I was surprised to see that India too has below 3 new cases / 100 k

Where is China

The table doesn’t include China. Probably largest volume of travel. other than Malaysia. will involve China whether for business, workers or pleasure. I realize it’s on the table with no SHN but would still be nice to see on the table on number per 100K and its vaccination rate. Thanks

Last edited 1 month ago by Where is China
Wee Lin
Last edited 1 month ago by Wee Lin
JW19

I believe its more on the issue of reciprocal. China has been adpoting an Australia like stance on entry restriction, quarantine and testing for itself and most of its territories like HK and Macau, plus the non-recognition of non Chinese vaccines makes China an exclusion on the list.
Though that shouldn’t take away from the fact they controlled the pandemic really well.

They are also the reason in the strong preference of certain demography for the Sinovac vaccine here in SG, they need this jab to stand any chance of going or returning to China.

rtk

India has been a bit of an enigma. Both the sudden rise of cases to 400k in the peak of May 2021 to the equally sudden decline to 36k in July 2021 later. While there’s bound to be some underreporting, you no longer see the scramble for oxygen and hospital beds.

freedom

Russia will have a problem with the map as it shows Crimea is Ukraine.

George

Desperately trying to feel more optimistic with this announcement. But given the recent announcements the government made (mainly how we will now start treating the virus as endemic, how we will stop focusing on number of cases, how we will monitor #ICUs cases as the overarching goal) and how quickly they backtracked on all of that by imposing mini lockdown, this announcement leaves very little desire to feel any optimism at all. Unfortunately trust has been broken so any words or PR attempts to paint a rosier picture, should fall on deaf ears. There is only 1 thing that needs… Read more »

Salmon Lee

I perfectly agree; I’ve no trust in these 4G leaders anymore.

Did I miss the memo?

One thing I keep seeing people say is how the government had started treating COVID as endemic, and then backtracked. Is that actually true? I only remember them saying that we will eventually start treating the situation as endemic. Though I believe no roadmap was given – think that was something that could have been better fleshed out.

Seems rather logical to me that when cases skyrocket before we have achieved 70-80% vaccination rate, the situation has indeed changed? No?

George

PM Lee’s address announcing this was 31st of May. Do you have many examples of the government announcing a new set of measures that took 2 months to execute? It’s usually a matter of days. Sure, they didn’t announce a date but it was major shift in a problem that was affecting the entire country so procrastinating is not really the government’s MO especially when the impact is so high. Sure, it is logical when cases “skyrocket” before we have achieved 70%-80% vaccination rate to close down; If you haven’t already announced that you will treat this as an endemic.… Read more »

Still looking for the memo

“When will it happen? I really can’t say,” Mr Wong said, in response to a reporter’s question on when the virus will be considered endemic here.https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/singapore-planning-for-possibility-that-covid-19-becomes-endemic-here Some quick thoughts: 1) I don’t think it is fair to accuse the government of backtracking when really, there was never a concrete plan to begin with. 2) That said, I personally agree that a more specific plan could have been beneficial (and confidence-inspiring). But perhaps difficult in a highly volatile situation. 3) Different countries have arrived at different conclusions on what should be deemed as an acceptable level of risk. 4) Singapore’s pursuit of a… Read more »

George

I agree with points 2,3,4. But not your conclusion. There is indeed inconsistency. Let me share why. When you are announcing an endemic strategy, this requires a country mind shift in many areas. Healthcare practices, travel policies, WFH vs RTO policies, social norms, cultural events, public discourse on how we even talk about the pandemic, ec. This is not a switch that is flicked on xx/xx/xxxx and suddenly everything becomes endemic. The kickstart to change this mindset was PM Lee’s announcement which was followed by the MTF penned article on Straits Times. When you need to start managing a whole… Read more »

Sam

Exactly, I’m glad you are mentioning this. People are not remembering that we are nowhere near the 70-80% number (just because you got your 2nd jab doesnt make you vaccinated BTW. You still have to wait 14 days for it to take effect). Also, the limited number of ICU beds in the country coupled with the relatively high % of elderlies not vaccinated yet. Finally, the new delta variant with the higher R number and lethality.

Li Yan

Those who chose to remain unvaccinated (aside medical reasons) chose to roll the dice, time for them to pay their price.

Sam

I agree but it is too early for that right now. I think the govt is giving a last ditch plead for all the elderlies to get vaccinated and protected. Then in August/Sept onwards, it is going to be what you mentioned.

George

I don’t think you read the numbers correctly. Look at the current ICU utilisation, the current infection and lethal rate and the symptoms experienced by current cases

Abc

You can’t say there’s 1000 ICU beds and only a handful of covid cases using them, look lots of capacity. ICU beds are not just for covid patients. As the other guy has mentioned, the govt has only shared plans of shifting to endemic thinking when the timing is right, it’s never said we are already there. Indeed, I just took my 2nd jab this week – and I can assure you that I didn’t not delay a single day. I put my name down for it well before I was eligible, I got the SMS to book within 24hrs… Read more »

George

The 1,000 beds in ICU have been set aside, specifically for Covid19 cases according to Health minister Ong. Current utilization is 1/1000 or 0.01%.

For everything else you mentioned around the government response, I respectfully disagree and I don’t see how either of us can convince the other, as it’s our point of view. So let’s just agree to disagree

freedom

The result of a successful action by the government is not the reason why it should be removed because the general result is not as favorable as observed in the neighboring countries

Sam

Personally I’m frustrated and find it astounding when people here are bellyaching about the no dine-in for the next few weeks when ALL our neighboring countries (Thailand, VN, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar) are currently struggling with record high numbers daily.

I understand that some business owners are affected and some people are inconvenienced but let’s all have a sense of perspective especially around the new Delta variant which has double the R number and lethality

George

It is not about dining in and entertainment. It is about maintaining a mental health balance and sustaining your livelihood. Sam, there are hundreds of thousand of people right now in Singapore who have not seen their families for 2 years and are afraid to leave because they are not allowed to return back to Singapore and they may lose their jobs. Are you aware how many stories there are of people who are not able to see dying members in their home countries? Families being torn apart? How would you feel if your parents were in their last moments… Read more »

Sam

I’m more than personally aware about these concerns but what would you recommend otherwise? It’s real easy to be in the peanut gallery throwing peanut shells but when it comes to governance and policies on a country level, it’s not so easy. You can see how China governance (be it right or wrong) has panned out for them. Your statistics are based on fully vaccinated people and also not the Delta variant. Have a look at this: https://unchartedterritories.tomaspueyo.com/p/delta-variant-everything-you-need I’m sick of people misrepresenting statistics and ignoring issues such as long-covid. Are we really only to regret not making these moves… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Sam
George

It is indeed difficult, no doubt about it. What I would recommend is continue on the successful strategy that is already in place in Singapore, Testing, Tracing and Vaccinating. There is no need to go back on more restrictions since all data is showing that we are in a very good spot in terms of vaccinations, hospitalizations and ICU utilization. Since the government has announced the endemic strategy, how will they will able to enforce this strategy in the future when they overreact when cases crop up? How will the population be comfortable with 200-300 or 500 daily cases? When… Read more »

Yukino-chan

More inclined to agree with George that we can only continue with Testing, Tracing and Vaccinating to move forward. Personally, I have always feel that we are overreacting to Covid and all the lockdowns between countries are unnecessary. But like Sam said, it’s easy for someone like me who’s in the peanut gallery to comment. Still, I always feel that we take responsibility of our own actions. If I am worried about Covid, I stay home and ask my family to stay home. If I choose to go out (be it to dine or whatever), the risk of catching Covid… Read more »

Breakthrough cases

How come the number of infections of fully vaccinated vs unvaccinated seems to track the percentage of vaccinated vs unvaccinated in the general population? From yesterday’s MOH covid update. The number of infected 40-60 year olds is 66 unvaccinated, 134 partially vaccinated, 259 fully vaccinated. So 14% of infections are in unvaccinated, 30% in partially vaccinated and 56% in fully vaccinated. Surely if breakthrough cases are rare then these numbers should be very different. Does this mean vaccinated travelers are likely to bring back covid. If you are vaccinated and get infected on your trip how much quarantine are you… Read more »

George

An excellent question and very astute observation. There is currently a misconception that vaccine makes you invincible. That is not the case. The vaccine currently almost eradicates the possibility of having a severe infection that will lead to hospitalization, reduces the viral loads compared to unvaccinated people and therefore limits the transmissibility. ( “A growing body of evidence indicates that people fully vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) are less likely to have asymptomatic infection or to transmit SARS-CoV-2 to others. Studies are underway to learn more about the benefits of Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine. However, the risk… Read more »

Breakthrough cases

Yes but the simple math question is:- if vaccination decreases the chances of infection and 75% of the population is vaccinated then 75% of new infections should not be in vaccinated people. Dr Ying’s explanation is an attempt to explain this away without addressing the core of the matter. The question being why are there so many breakthrough cases? Severity of cases is an entirely different matter.

George

The fact that both the current cluster infection on vaccinated people and the country’s vaccination rate (75%) match, could be a coincidence. It depends on the circumstances of this infection which we do not have visibility on. e.g. It could be that more than 90% of the people who were potentially exposed to the cluster were fully vaccinated but only 75% them got infected (The fact they were vaccinated reduced transmissibility).

BleKee

All other things equal, a car with airbags is just as likely to be involved in an accident as a car without airbags. However, the probability of severe injuries or death is however reduced in cars with airbags. Hope this analogy helps.

No one promised the vaccine would confer 100% immunity and while we had hoped that the vaccine would improve immunity, it appears not. But what it does is reduce the severity of the illness and for that reason alone, everyone should get vaccinated.

Statistics

Your understanding of statistics is wrong. To demonstrate, a fully vaccinated population will have 100% of infections being vaccinated. That does not mean that vaccinated individuals are likely to have covid.

Breakthrough cases

My understanding of statistics is fine. As is my understanding or “Lies, damned lies and statistics”. As I posted:-

The number of infected 40-60 year olds is 66 unvaccinated, 134 partially vaccinated, 259 fully vaccinated. So 14% of infections are in unvaccinated, 30% in partially vaccinated and 56% in fully vaccinated. 

Unless there is selection bias – which we have no reason to believe – then the numbers above should not be like this if mRNA vaccines provide appreciable protection against the delta variant.

I also understand obsfucation when people are trying to sell their book.

Breakthrough cases

Edit:- Unless there is selection bias – which we have no reason to believe – then the numbers above should not be like this if mRNA vaccines provide appreciable protection against being infected by the delta variant.

freedom

an obvious error is that the percentage of full vaccinated people in the age of 40 – 60 is higher than 70%. Your conclusion is wrong.

Ortloc

14-day SHN reduced to a 7-day SHN is something hardly to get excited about. Just 1 trip out of Singapore would blow up the annual leave of most people.

I’m taking this news with a huge grain of salt as it’s probably more intended to put in a holding pattern, the ever-growing hordes baying for blood.

Abc

It makes a big difference for those who are able to WFH. Assuming we return to 50% or 75% in the office, a bit of good planning means those who can WFH can plan their trip so they do the 7day home shn on their designated WFH week. Or else make request for additional WFH time to do your home shn. I would be more open to travelling if it’s home shn – it would be more bearable to do when it doesn’t involve the additional cost of a hotel, and I have my creature comforts like my bed, my… Read more »

Ortloc

It’s only feasible if you have the home to yourself; or if you’re traveling with the entire household; or if your household is willing to SHN with you when you return (but who would want to inconvenience or put at risk the rest of their household members?).

Otherwise it’s in a government SHN facility.

freedom

Some companies or education facilities will not allow family members of people with SHN to return. It is not exactly up to the family members to tolerate or not.

Coltro

Every little bit makes a huge difference to business or official travel, especially for multi-city itineraries.

Someone going to 3 cities would consider the trip too time-consuming if 14 days in each city means they would spend 2 months in quarantine. Not that 1 month is appealing, but it is a lot less and makes more kinds of trips easier to stomach.

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