World News

Singapore may relax curbs for vaccinated travellers as WEF nears

FILE PHOTO: Healthcare worker Sarah Lim receives her coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) in Singapore December 30, 2020. Lee Jia Wen/Ministry of Communications and Information/Handout via REUTERS

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore said on Monday it will consider relaxing travel restrictions for people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, including for those planning to visit the city-state for the World Economic Forum (WEF) in May.

The Southeast Asian business and tourism hub has largely banned leisure travel because of the pandemic, and has limited business and official travel agreements with certain countries. Most returning residents have to isolate in designated hotels or at home for up to two weeks.

“If there is clear evidence that transmission risks can be lowered significantly (by vaccines), we will certainly consider some relaxation to the SHN (stay home notice) regime for vaccinated travellers,” the co-head of the government’s virus taskforce, Lawrence Wong, said in parliament.

The rich island nation, which has largely eradicated the disease locally, last week became one of the first countries in Asia to embark on a national inoculation programme.

Government studies show nearly 60% of people are willing to be vaccinated, the health ministry said on Monday. But some have expressed hesitation due to the low risk of infection in Singapore and concern about any possible side effects from rapidly developed vaccines.

Wong said restrictions could also be reviewed for vaccinated travellers for the WEF, which usually attracts thousands of politicians, business people and celebrities from around the world.

The annual gathering has been moved from its usual home in Davos, Switzerland, because of virus fears in Europe.

Reporting by John Geddie; Editing by Himani Sarkar, Robert Birsel