Singapore, Mar 24 (EFE).- Singapore’s prime minister announced on Thursday that wearing a mask outdoors will now be optional and that the island nation will “drastically” streamline testing and quarantine requirements for travelers and those wishing to go overseas.
This will make it “almost like before Covid-19,” Lee Hsien Loong said in a speech broadcast live on his Facebook page.
Almost 90 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated in the country, which in recent months has begun reopening its borders in order to maintain its status as the region’s financial hub — in contrast to the lockdowns that prevail in its regional rival, Hong Kong.
Until now, Singapore allowed quarantine-free entry for vaccinated travelers from a certain list of countries via Vaccinated Travel Lane flights.
These restrictions could be relaxed, as well as mandatory testing before departure and on arrival, information that the authorities will update throughout the day.
“This will reconnect Singapore with the world. It will give a much needed boost to businesses, particularly to the tourism sector. And it will help Singapore reclaim its position as a business and aviation hub,” Lee said.
The number of people allowed at gatherings will also double from five to 10, while the capacity limit for larger events and settings — those with more than 1,000 people — will be raised to 75 percent.
The easing of restrictions underpins Singapore’s transition to a “living with Covid-19” strategy after vaccinating the bulk of its population during 2021.
However, Lee urged people “not to throw all caution to the wind” and said that the authorities will not hesitate to tighten restrictions if the situation changes.
Although the island has also been badly hit by the highly contagious Omicron variant, the high rate of vaccinations has not altered the course of its strategy and the authorities have insisted that those who are asymptomatic or with moderate symptoms recover at home if they do not require hospital care. EFE