Dear fellow Norwegians,
I write this just as we are about to enter an Easter weekend like no other. The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the entire world into an unprecedented crisis. Countries around the world are struggling to cope, and we are witnessing harrowing scenes in many places.
Friends and family in Norway are living with the most far-reaching measures taken in peace time, and the situation is likely to continue to be tenuous for some time. A gradual relaxation of some measures has been signalled by the government, but it will take quite some time before we approach anything resembling normality.
Here in Singapore, the government introduced stricter measures – a Circuit Breaker – on Tuesday 7 April. These measures will be in place at least until 4 May, although they might be prolonged. The advice from the government is clear – stay home as much as possible and only go out for essential goods or services, or for taking some exercise. With schools and kindergartens closed, and most people working from home, these are challenging days for many families. At the same time, we know that the pandemic can only be contained and suppressed if all of us are socially responsible and follow government guidelines and restrictions.
The Norwegian Embassy will remain open. We will continue to serve Norwegians in Singapore and you will always be able to reach us or our colleagues in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Oslo.
In light of the latest measures in Singapore – the Circuit Breaker - the Embassy has cut further down on staff working from our offices. As with most companies and other work places, the majority of staff are working from home. We therefore ask all Norwegians in need of our assistance to reach out to us primarily on e-mail. If you need to come in and see us, we ask you to make an appointment beforehand. In this way, we can ensure that we have the right personnel in place to help and assist you with your needs.
The Embassy has on several occasion reminded all Norwegians to update their travel information on the Norwegian Government's Travel Registry. Let me again encourage you to do so. By registering yourself and your family, you will receive any information we might send out to the Norwegian community. Let me also remind all Norwegians on short-term visits to Singapore that the travel advice from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to avoid all non-essential travel to all countries and return to Norway while there still are commercial flights available. There are still a limited number of commercial flights from Singapore to Norway per week, and short-term visitors are encouraged to make use of these flights while possible.
We continues to stay in regular contact with the Singaporean Government on developments related to COVID-19. We regularly receive updates on how Singapore assesses the situation and on measures being implemented. The government of Singapore also posts a lot of information online, and I strongly encourage you all to stay informed and follow the guidance given by the Ministry of Health. If you have not already done so, you may also subscribe to the Gov.sg WhatsApp channel. Information on the Coronavirus is also published in Norwegian by Folkehelseinstituttet.
Together with the rest of “Team Norway”, we look forward to engaging with you all in the future. For now, we will continue to stay in touch with many of you by videoconferences or email. We thank those who contribute to the regular assessments of how the crisis is affecting Norwegian companies, carried out by Innovation Norway on behalf of the Norwegian government. While the focus these days is on the public health aspects of the pandemic, as it should be, we also need to keep an eye on the long term economic and social impact of the crisis. Norway believes that international cooperation is even more important in the time of crisis, and we will continue to work closely with Singapore and other likeminded countries to uphold international connectivity,
I wish you all the very best for these Circuit Breaker weeks and hope that you will be able to find some way of keeping children engaged and adults content over the Easter break and the weeks to follow. We all have to vastly improve our online skills, be it as home-based learners or webinarists – let me wish you all the best of luck with this aspect of life as well!
By remaining responsible and sensible, I am confident that the Norwegian community will continue to contribute positively to Singapore in these challenging times.
Take care and stay safe!