Dear Norwegians and friends of Norway in Singapore,
I hope you all had a lovely, if socially distanced, celebration of our National Day. It was a pleasure seeing all the engagement and creative contributions to our #17MayNorwegiansAbroad campaign. I look forward to the next occasion when we as a community can again celebrate in person!
As you will all know, we are now 6 weeks into the “Circuit Breaker" period here in Singapore. I know that this period has been very testing for many. In addition to the concerns that we may have about Covid-19 and the risk to relatives and friends, we have had to adjust to the fact that we are not able to move freely outdoors or to have face-to-face interaction with colleagues and friends. We have had to adapt to new ways of working, shopping, and distance learning.
Global developments suggest that various regulations and restrictions for both businesses and individuals will remain in place for some time.
As we approach the summer season in Europe, we have noticed an increasing number of questions from member of the Norwegian community about the rules and regulations for traveling to Norway and for returning to Singapore after the summer vacation. This is no surprise - many of us will normally go to Norway during the summer break. Given the restrictions currently in place in Singapore, many might even consider moving their summer vacation forward by several weeks.
Let me therefore encourage you to consider carefully relevant travel restrictions and immigration regulations before you decide to travel overseas.
Current regulations require all long-term work pass holders who leave Singapore to apply to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for entry approval. At this point in time, approval only seems to be given to a very limited number of persons working in essential industries.
If you as a long-term work pass holder (or similar) left Singapore after 27 March 2020, and you are granted entry approval, you will have to bear the full cost of your mandatory 14 day quarantine at a dedicated facility. You must also be prepared to bear the full cost of any potential Covid-19 related expenses after your return. See MOM Travel advisory for Employees and their Dependants, 23 March.
Singapore will take a number of factors into consideration when deciding on the future of these and related regulations and travel restrictions. The Ministry of Health (MOH) has stated the following: We will gradually re-open our borders for Singaporeans to conduct essential activities overseas and to allow safe travel for foreigners entering or transiting through Singapore. We will do so in a careful manner with the necessary precautions and safeguards. As the global situation remains volatile, such moves will be assessed and implemented separately from the timing of the three broad phases of re-opening outlined above. For example, Singapore is currently exploring the possibility of piloting green lane arrangements with a few countries assessed to be at equivalent or lower risk of community transmission as Singapore, for which essential travel in limited numbers and with safeguards, could be conducted safely. We will consider expanding such arrangements gradually as global conditions improve. MOH, 19 May.
This indicates a cautious, gradual re-opening, which makes it impossible to predict how travel from Norway to Singapore will be regulated in the time to come.
Even as I fully understand the desire to go to Norway for the summer vacation, the uncertainties require everyone to consider their travel plans carefully and take into consideration the potential implications for themselves and their family of any overseas travel. If you leave Singapore, you will have to take into account that you and/or your family might not be granted an entry approval for some time.
We do not know how long these regulations and travel restrictions will remain in place. We encourage all members of the Norwegian community in Singapore to pay close attention to the information released by the government here. Let me underline that the Embassy will not be in a position to assist when it comes to entry approval from MOM.
For those in the community who plan to relocate from Singapore, please be aware that there are few commercial flights to Europe these days, but flights are still available. It is impossible to predict how air traffic will develop in the time to come. It would therefore be prudent to book your flight early and stay in close touch with your airline or travel agent in case of possible changes.
The Embassy continues to serve the Norwegian community in Singapore. Visiting hours are by appointment only and we give priority to critical requests. The Embassy is available by phone and email during regular office hours Monday-Friday 09.00-16.30. Outside office hours, the Operative Centre in MFA Oslo is always available in case of emergency.
Let me also encourage you all to register at the Norwegian government’s website (www.reiseregistrering.no). By doing so, you will allow us to reach you in case of an emergency.
As a final point, I would like to remind all members of the community to continue to closely follow and respect all Covid-19 regulations and recommendations in Singapore. We all need to do our part in order to overcome this pandemic. I hope the Norwegian community will continue to set a good example by adhering to the regulations in solidarity with the front line workers and those directly affected by the virus.
With my best wishes for the time ahead,
Ambassador of Norway to Singapore