In a television interview, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he hoped Singapore would reopen its borders by the end of the year as more countries scale up vaccination campaigns against COVID-19 infections.
Singapore has generally prohibited leisure travel, but it has implemented certain corporate and official travel programmes. It’s also consulting with other national governments about mutual recognition of vaccine certificates.
“I hope if that many countries can have substantial proportions of their populations vaccinated by later this year, and we will be able to have the confidence and to have developed the systems to open up our international borders to travel safely again,” Lee said in an interview with BBC that aired on Sunday, 14th March 2021.
“Hopefully by the end of this year or next year, the doors can start to open, if not earlier,” he said.
With just a few new local events, Singapore has brought its COVID-19 situation under control and has begun carrying out its vaccination programme, having approved shots from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
As of 8th March, the nation had given out just over 611,000 vaccine doses to a population of 5.7 million people, a much slower rate than larger countries. However, it has announced that it aims to vaccinate all by the end of the year.
PM Lee explained that since there were few local cases, the country could take its time convincing its citizens to get the vaccine. Some people are reluctant because of the low risk of infection and concerns about potential side effects from vaccines that are still being produced.
Singapore has also obtained the Sinovac Biotech vaccine from China, which awaiting approval. Singapore is testing the vaccine and will use it if it meets protection and efficacy requirements, according to the Singapore Prime Minister.
“If (the Sinovac vaccine) passes muster in terms of safety and effectiveness, we will use it. We will use vaccines from any source,” he said.
“Vaccines do not carry a nationality. Is it good or is it no good? Does it work? If it does, then we will use it.”
Meanwhile, Singapore has put the Reciprocal Green Lane arrangement with Malaysia on hold since 1st February for three months.