We are in the middle of the worst pandemic to have hit humankind since the Spanish flu a century ago. It has disrupted all our lives with a grievous number of people being infected and losing their lives.
Here in Singapore, we are well cared for. The government has led a consistent effort to keep the pandemic under control. In a city state with high connectivity and population density, the stakes are high. The vaccine rollout is well underway, and, just as we have come to expect of Singapore, well organised, efficient, and friendly. Even so, as has again been demonstrated over the last few weeks, the fight against the virus is far from over. Faced with more infectious variants of the virus, the government has introduced tighter restrictions, increased social distancing, and SHN of 21 days.
Along with many other countries, Norway has introduced stricter measures, including tighter border control. There is now a requirement of 10 days hotel quarantine for travellers from Singapore and from all other countries outside of the EU/EEA/UK area. In parallel, because Singapore is among the EU "safe third countries" in terms of Covid19*, several European countries have lifted all quarantine requirements for travellers from Singapore and from other safe third countries.
We fully recognise that this situation is causing impatience and frustration in the community. It is therefore positive that the government has recently decided to reassess this approach, and we hope to see concrete results before too long.
Furthermore, the EU is developing digital green certificates (“covid passports”) to facilitate travel within the EU/EEA area for protected persons (persons who have been vaccinated, have recently been infected, or who have a recent negative Covid19 test). Many EU countries want these certificates to facilitate entry also from safe third countries.
READ: For Norwegians: Corona certificate and legal clarifications for registering vaccines taken abroad
Notwithstanding this, the totality of travel restrictions and quarantine requirements means that many of you in the Norwegian community in Singapore have revised your travel plans for the summer. Many of you will not have seen your family and friends for almost two years. The sense of lost time can be overwhelming.
While these developments are disappointing and the pandemic tests our patience, it is nevertheless important to keep the bigger picture in mind. I believe we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel - albeit a very long tunnel. This will pass, and our hopes are now set on 2022. I encourage you to continue to demonstrate that the Norwegian community in Singapore is a resilient one, and a positive contribution both to the economy and to the society of Singapore.
Regardless of circumstances, Team Norway in Singapore is here to serve the Norwegian community, promote Norwegian companies and expertise, and strengthen the relations between Singapore and Norway.
We do our best every day, and over the last 15 months, we have continued to do so under radically changed conditions. When the pandemic struck, we quickly moved our activities online. We redoubled our efforts, including by rapidly acquiring new skills fit for the digital reality.
Since last year, we have organised and contributed to many webinars, insight panels, e-meetings, virtual market entry programmes, virtual visits, and more. We have assisted individual companies, conducted market reports, and built regional networks. We have increasingly tried to leverage on the fact that location has ceased to matter, by bringing together leading figures in Singapore and Norway on a range of topics. Finally, we are trying to understand what a post-pandemic world will look like.
It is therefore natural – even timely - that Team Norway presents what we do in a more coherent way for the Norwegian community in Singapore, friends of Norway, and other stakeholders. It is my hope that this newsletter will help build the community, promote Norway, and add visibility to Norwegian companies, universities and research institutions, cultural actors, and others.
This newsletter would not be a reality without the great team in the Embassy, Innovation Norway and NBAS, nor without the many excellent contributions to our events and programmes from many of you. I thank you all for your enthusiasm and your contributions, and I encourage you to share your ideas and suggestions with us. In June, we will invite the Norwegian community to an open meeting to inform about what we do – and to hear from you directly. Please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram to stay updated on events and activities.
*As of 6 May 2021, other countries on the list include Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand and China (including Hong Kong and Macao