Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Monday (March 1) that there are no plans to require travelers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 before entering the country.
"Instead, we will continue to use checks and stay-home notice (SHN) provisions to ensure that visitors do not carry the virus into our communities," he said, adding that the country has been able to allow some visitors in without requiring them to be vaccinated in the past year.
During the debate on his ministry's budget, he assured the House that he would go into greater detail about Singapore's plans to reopen its borders.
Ong was responding to a question from Gan Thiam Poh (Ang Mo Kio GRC) about whether Singapore would only allow residents to visit if they have received vaccinations approved by the Health Sciences Authority.
It is also premature, according to the minister, to determine whether border measures can be eased for vaccinated individuals or whether vaccinations can be separated for the purposes of enforcing border measures.
This is because, according to Ong, there is currently insufficient scientific evidence to assist health authorities in evaluating the degree to which vaccinations will minimize the risk of a person infecting others.
"Despite this, a no-regrets move is to begin working on a system of mutual recognition of vaccine certification between countries," he said, noting that Singapore has adopted a tamper-proof and verifiable digital vaccine certification system.
Singapore is also discussing reciprocal recognition of such certifications with the International Civil Aviation Organization and other countries.
"Bilateral consultations and discussions of this kind will take time," Ong said.
The Government Technology Agency (GovTech) and the Ministry of Health established the new digital certification system, which is based on HealthCerts, an open-source platform for issuing digital Covid-19 test result certificates.
Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) also inquired about the timing of the next review of workplace safety policies, as well as the factors to be considered.
Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad indicated that the authorities would need to track how the community cases progress, especially after the Chinese New Year holiday.
He added that the government will keep an eye on the Covid-19 situation for a few weeks to see when public health interventions, such as occupational safety, can be changed.
When asked whether vaccination would play a role in deciding workplace safe management policies, Zaqy said that once enough people have been vaccinated, vaccinated workers should continue to obey simple safe management measures.
"We're also keeping an eye on how long the vaccine lasts and how effective it is at preventing Covid-19 transmission."
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