Singapore border updates: Max. SHN cut to 10 days; travel history period shortened, USA & UK upgraded and more

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Major updates to Singapore's border measures are coming from 7 Oct: shorter SHNs, shorter travel history periods and more Cat II/III countries.

Singapore has announced some major updates to its border restriction measures, which are great news for would-be travellers.

From 7 October 2021:

  • The maximum SHN duration will be reduced from 14 days to 10 days
  • The travel history assessment period will be shortened from 21 days to 14 days
  • ICA’s “no return to Singapore if positive COVID-19 test in past 21 days” gets reduced to 14 days
  • Additional countries will be upgraded to Category II and III

There’s a lot to dive into here, so let’s get started.

SHN duration reduced from 14 days to 10 days

The maximum SHN duration for arriving travellers will be cut to 10 days

Currently, travellers entering from Category III or IV countries must serve a 14-day SHN. 

From 7 October 2021, the SHN duration will be cut to 10 days. As before, fully-vaccinated travellers from Category III can serve their SHN at home, while all others must serve their SHN in a hotel. 

💉 SHN Measures by Category and Vaccination Status
  Fully-Vaccinated Unvaccinated
VTL No SHN Not allowed
Category I No SHN
Category II 7-day SHN
(home/hotel)
Category III 10-day SHN
(home/hotel)
10-day SHN
(hotel)
Category IV 10-day SHN
(hotel)

The cost of a 10-day SHN in a hotel will be S$1,450. 

Travel history assessment period shortened to 14 days

When determining which border restrictions apply, the authorities currently look at an individual’s 21-day travel history, applying the rules of the highest category country.

From 7 October 2021, the travel history assessment period will be shortened to 14 days. Travel history still includes any transits en route to Singapore, and time spent in Singapore prior to travel. 

For avoidance of doubt, this also applies to the VTL scheme. Travellers who have resided in Singapore and/or Germany for the past 14 days will be eligible to travel to Singapore on the VTL, avoiding an SHN on return. 

In fact, with this latest set of changes it may actually make more sense for fully-vaccinated individuals from Category III and IV countries to fly to Germany (where they’re exempt from quarantine), stay there for 14 days and then travel back to Singapore on the VTL. I think most people would trade 14 days of unrestricted movement and freedom for a 10 day SHN. 

Update: Of course, this would only work if you were vaccinated in Singapore or Germany, as that’s the requirement of VTL travel at the moment. However, I fully expect Singapore to recognise the EUDCC soon, which will open this option to more people. Stay tuned.

ICA’s 21-day rule is now a 14-day rule 

Planning a VTL trip to Germany? At worst you’ll be stuck there for 14 additional days

If you’ve been reading my Germany VTL reports, you’ll know that one major hurdle to travel is the ICA’s so-called 21-day rule. 

The rule used to state that any traveller (regardless of nationality) who tests positive for COVID-19 in the past 21 days may not travel to Singapore. This means that if you get a positive pre-departure test result, you’re stuck in that country for 21 more days. 

From 7 October 2021, this will become a 14-day rule to align with the shortened travel history assessment period. As per the ICA’s website: 

Travellers should not travel to Singapore if they:

  1. Have symptoms of COVID-19;
  2. Are diagnosed or suspected to have COVID-19 infection in the last 21 (for arrivals before 7 Oct 2021) or 14 (for arrivals from 7 Oct 2021) days before departing for Singapore; or
  3. Had close contact with any person with COVID-19 in the last 14 (for arrivals before 7 Oct 2021) or 10 (for arrivals from 7 Oct 2021) days before departing for Singapore. Close contact refers to:
    1. Providing care for a COVID-19 patient, including in healthcare or family/social settings;
    2. Staying in the same place as a person with COVID-19 (e.g. household members); or
    3. Are aware they had close proximity (i.e. less than 2 metres) and prolonged contact (15 minutes or more) with a person with COVID-19 (e.g. shared a meal).

This effectively reduces the “penalty” for a positive COVID-19 test by 7 days. I doubt that will be much comfort to Singapore residents looking to go to Germany for a vacation, but hey, it’s a step in the right direction.

Additional countries upgraded to Cat. II and III

From 7 October 2021, new countries will be added to Cat. II and III. The updated list reads:

Category Countries/Territories
I
Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, Taiwan
II Australia, Brunei, Canada, Czech Republic (new), Denmark (new), France (new), Finland (new),  Germany, Italy (new), Japan (new), Luxembourg (new), Malta (new), Netherlands (new), New Zealand, Poland, Portugal (new), South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain (new), Sweden (new)
III Austria, Bahrain (new), Bhutan (new), Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus (new), Egypt, Fiji (new), Greece (new), Iceland (new), Ireland (new), Latvia, Liechtenstein (new), Maldives (new), Norway, Slovakia (new), Switzerland, Turkey, UK (new), USA (new)
IV All other countries/territories

The addition of the UK and USA to Category III is a major development, insofar as it allows travellers to serve their SHN at home. From what I hear, these two countries constituted the vast majority of SHN guests, so this may lead to the freeing up of quite a bit of hotel capacity. 

Here’s a summary of the updated border restrictions by category:

🛂Singapore Border Restrictions by Category
  Cat. I Cat. II Cat. III Cat. IV VTL
Short-term visitors
Application required ATP Details on ICA website VTP
Pre-departure PCR test
48h

48h

48h

48h
On-arrival PCR test
SHN
7 days

10 days
(home or hotel)

10 days
(hotel)
ART during SHN N/A
Day 3, 7

Day 3, 7
N/A
Post-SHN PCR test N/A
Day 7

Day 10

Day 10
No SHN. PCR test on Day 3, 7

Conclusion

This is quite possibly the biggest development since Singapore closed its borders in March 2020. 10 days is still a long time to be stuck at home/in a hotel room, but it’s sure as heck better than 14 days.

Likewise, the shortening of the travel history assessment period to 14 days makes it feasible for travellers from Category III and IV to “SHN overseas” in a sense, travelling to Germany and hunkering down for two weeks before coming to Singapore. Provided they’re fully vaccinated, they’ll be able to live life pretty much normally there. And for those looking to travel on the VTL, the worst-case scenario is now being stranded overseas for an additional 14 days, instead of 21. 

I’ll be digesting the impact of these latest updates and publishing a few articles over the next few days, so stay tuned.

Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Kris

I think it might be curious to find how out how some of the other countries treat a positive case. Is it a mandatory quarantine, or a good-to-isolate but can still go out for essentials kind of scenario? I also wonder how many employed Singaporeans are willing to take the risk.

Whats your view on whether countries in Cat 2 will be afforded the champion upgrade to Cat 1 (in the usually busy holiday period Nov-Dec) ?

Brian

UAE/Qatar is still in cat 4 yet again. I don’t see why they are riskier countries than US, Uk or even turkey.

Seems like the upgrade for cat 2 to cat 1 is very unlikely unless cases are in low hundreds.

Last edited 3 months ago by Brian
ZYX

Hint: they are major competitors for flights to Europe and America

freedom

So is Turkey.

Tom

No, no it isn’t 😂

Wee Lin

A combined Maldives/Euro Trip anyone?

Shawn

This is bad. From reports it’s pretty clear there’s some leakage in home based SHN. Moving UK/USA to home based SHN will probably spike the cases by many factors.

Uk_Ship

But it’s endemic and the people doing SHN have been tested prior arrival, so what is the issue?

Shawn

Problem is the testing regime is not strictly enforced. Aaron himself said ICA didn’t even get back to him about testing until it was no longer needed. If this is the case even for the current small amount of people on home SHN, it’s going to be a disaster when they move the UK/US guys to home SHN.

Wen Hui

We have tenthousands of Singaporeans on unmonitored home recovery now. We do not PCR test folks anymore with a positive ART test as long as they are asymptomatic.

And you are worried about a hand full of planes arriving per week? All of them have done a PDT and an arrival test, all of them will be using a GPS tracking device for the duration of their SHN. If anything that is a lot safer than visiting your void deck.

Shawn

According to Aaron right now the arrivals aren’t contributing to the leakage yet as they are forced to do hotel SHN. But moving the 90% of new arrivals (UK/US travelers) to home SHN would amplify the numbers greatly and lead to us losing control of the trajectory.

Shaun

The problem is you’re concerned about case numbers. Which means you do not understand our stance on taking on Covid as an endemic virus, or you understand but do not agree. When a disease is endemic, we do not try to reduce case numbers. We do make sure that our healthcare system can accept the serious cases. The only reason the government is taking precautions to slow down the wave, is for our healthcare system to adapt and be ready to cater to more serious cases. Just like having a cold, when you have a bad cold, stay home until… Read more »

freedom

Just do a simple test. Tell everyone you meet that you live in the residence with someone COVID+ and see their response then you know whether we are in endemic. With flu, most would not care, but with COVID?

Last edited 3 months ago by freedom
Shaun

The fear that may arise in your hypothetical situation is one caused by ignorance, not by the truth of the situation.

It will get better over time, as were many people irrationally afraid of things. Official media is already telling people that home recovery is suitable for covid.

https://www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19/general/faqs—border-measures-and-changes-to-stay-home-notice-requirements/faqs—leave-of-absence-(loa)-stay-home-notice-(shn)-and-quarantine-order-(qo)

freedom

It is a fact that COVID spreads faster and wider and puts more people into hospital than the flu. The fear is not unfounded.

Last edited 3 months ago by freedom
Spoon

It is also a fact that when you are fully vaccinated (at least with the mRNA options), unless you are also at a very old age, the risk of you being put into hospital falls off steeply compared to non-vaccinations.

The misrepresentation is definitely founded.

freedom

So what do you mean by that? Everyone should just get it and spread it further without any concern for anyone around or public health? I would like to hear it from the government and watch how it goes.

Even for endemic like flu, stopping it from spreading is still important. No doctor will advise a person with flu to run around and infect more people.

Last edited 3 months ago by freedom
Shaun

MOH: Home recovery
Freedom: no, they need to be hospitalized.

hahalol ok boomer

freedom

Where did I ever mention hospitized? LOL!

Shaun

lol maybe you should admit your mistake instead of editing your previous comment and pretending that you never said anything about hospitalization. this just makes you look pathetic.

Tom

I don’t mean this in a bad way Shawn but you don’t seem to be the brightest spark in the plug. Singapore’s cases are now comparable to the UK’s – given everyone entering will be PCR tested and under strict lockdown in their home how exactly will this be a problem? Give it another two weeks and the UK will not allow Singaporeans in any more at the rate you are going….

freedom

What do you mean by “strict lockdown in their home”? Who are guarding the doors? How about visitors?

There are cases of rule-breaking in quarantine facilities. I don’t have high confidence in home quarantine.

Last edited 3 months ago by freedom
Ian End

Everyone doing SHN at home has to wear an electronic tagging bracelet and is called at least once a day by MOM/MOH. That’s how.

freedom

What is there to prevent a girlfriend or boyfriend or whoever to come and visit? Ain’t we in endemic? What’s the risk to visit someone in home quarantine? Almost everyone is vaccinated with mRNA vaccine.

Last edited 3 months ago by freedom
Ian End

You won’t hear any argument from me on that one, but until Wong gets his head out of his ass this is the best we’ve got.

Tom

Nobody cares about your confidence mate…sad to see how far things have fallen….

freedom

The media certainly cares. Just a few cases in the news will move the government’s decision.

Home quarantine is of little use from public health perspective. Either quarantine facilities or no quarantine. What the government should do is to shorten the duration of quarantine in mandatory quarantine facilities and advise people to do health monitoring.

Those caring ones will be cautious even out of shortened quarantine. Those not caring one, home quarantine is really a joke. The government just rewards those no so law-abiding.

Last edited 3 months ago by freedom
Audrey Harris

You cannot use the VTL from Germany unless you are vaccinated in Germany. I has to stay 21 days in Switzerland to be able to return to Singapore.

Wihlem

I was about to ask that as we tried to have my mother -in-law come from a cat 4 country to us via Germany VTL (and yeah 14 days do a Germany holiday).
But now I hear it wouldn’t work if she got vaccinated in Canada.

James Quek

Does it mean that the travel partner of a PDT with PCR positive result conisdered as close contact and therefore also cannot return to Singapore?

asprino

Yes

chris holmes

any thoughts on what same travelk history actually is? does this mean same flight, or we can do flights on the same day with different airlines?

Ortloc

“Travel history still includes any transits en route to Singapore, and time spent in Singapore prior to travel.”

So what category has Singapore put itself in given the consecutive record number of daily cases? A traveler going to a lower category country would have to comply with the rules of the category Singapore is in if he traveled for less than 14 days.

Counting the time the traveler spent in Singapore makes no sense.

Coltro

It would be neutral because if you were in Singapore entering Singapore, you make no difference to the ecosystem.

Ortloc

So why add the redundant “and time spent in Singapore prior to travel”?

Shaun

It’s not redundant; unfortunately the government has to clarify that the 14 days INCLUDES the time you have spent in Singapore prior to traveling as many of our special friends were asking “So cannot do a trip less than 21 days?” (back when it was 21 days in Germany to qualify for VTL from Germany to Singapore.

So yes, you can do a 5 day trip and the 9 days prior to that was in Singapore, and you would take the highest category of the countries you’d been in in that 14 days.

Ian End

Because otherwise people can interpret the requirement as “spent 14 days in Germany” – i.e., you have to be in Germany for a minimum of 14 days.

Annoyed

“And for those looking to travel on the VTL, the worst-case scenario is now being stranded overseas for an additional 14 days, instead of 21. ” The iffy thing is, if you get Covid in Germany, you may still be positive for a few months. Don’t think staying an extra 14 days will give you a negative PCR unless your body is super good at clearing the virus. And the requirement for coming back to SG just flat out says a negative PCR test, without any guidelines for those who have recovered. I was already planning to go to Germany… Read more »

Gina

Now, let’s all hope Singapore don’t end up on the red list in Europe, with our increasing new cases numbers. That will spoilt many Xmas plans. 🤪🤪

Thor

Unvaccinated should not be allowed in the first place.

Ian End

The vaccine doesn’t yet have approval for under 12s

Ian End

Thanks Aaron, this is a great summary. I think SG (and other) governments should be paying you to explain their rules in plain language!

Tom

Completely agree, its like:

Sg Gov: Word Vomit

Me: Ok time to visit the milelion for the plain English translation >_<

Sufi

Great article thanks. Confused about home vs hotel quarantine for cat 2/3. Do all occupants of house have to have the same travel sort for home quarantine? If not then is it compulsory hotel quarantine. Thanks

Sufi

That should be same travel history…

MXW

Yes, *unless* each occupant has a separate bedroom with attached bathroom and no intermingling. So practically speaking if one member of household has travelled, they need to be isolated within their own house–and if two members travelled on different itineraries and returned at the same time, you better have a house with two different ensuite toilets.

Last edited 3 months ago by MXW

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