Singapore aims to start quarantine-free travel by September

A medical worker prepares a syringe at a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination center in Singapore
A medical worker prepares a syringe at a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination center in Singapore, March 8, 2021. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

SINGAPORE, July 26 (Reuters) - Singapore is looking to allow quarantine-free travel for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 from September, when 80% of the city-state's population should be inoculated, the government said on Monday.

Singapore will establish travel corridors with countries or regions where COVID-19 is under control, and those who are vaccinated may not have to quarantine or may be allowed to isolate at home, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said.

The city-state is also set to review whether to loosen curbs in early August, when two-thirds of its population would be fully inoculated.

"The easing will be differentiated and extended to only vaccinated persons, because they are much better protected against the effects of the virus," Wong said. "If you want to go out to dine in the restaurant or workout in the gym, you have to be fully vaccinated."

Last week, the country tightened social curbs, including halting restaurant dining and banning gatherings of more than two people for one month, after a rise in infections.

More than half the country has received both doses of either Pfizer-BioNTech (PFE.N), (22UAy.DE) or Moderna (MRNA.O) vaccines. It has inoculated nearly 75% of its 5.7 million people with at least one dose, the world's second-highest rate behind the United Arab Emirates, a Reuters tracker shows.

As countries with advanced vaccination campaigns prepare to live with COVID-19 as an endemic disease, their focus is turning to preventing death and serious diseases through vaccination.

Still, Singapore may not do away with all of its social distancing measures. For example, it may remove its mask mandate for outdoors, but require people to keep them on in an indoor enclosed environment, Wong said.

As of July 25, Singapore had 1,537 active cases, with 12 cases of serious illness requiring oxygen, and two patients in critical condition in the intensive care unit (ICU). None of the 14 cases is fully vaccinated.

Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan and Chen Lin in Singapore Editing by Ed Davies

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