Life has never been more complicated for the world's expat and internationally-focused families - and the rules don't get any more complex than those in Singapore and Hong Kong. Here's what you need to know.
Travel for residents of Hong Kong and Singapore has never been more complicated.
There has been no let-up - or even any indication of a let-up - in what is the world’s longest quarantine. Arrivals into Hong Kong from most destinations must endure a 21-day isolation period in designated quarantine hotels across the city. Although quarantine is carried out at the expense of travellers, the vast raft of testing that must be carried out alongside the quarantine is paid for by the government.
Hong Kong has classified countries into high, medium and low risk, with a quarantine and testing regime assigned according to the classification.
Countries categorised as high risk (Group A) include Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, France, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Malaysia, Nepal, the Netherlands, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Arrivals from these areas must be Hong Kong residents, must be fully vaccinated and hold a recognised vaccination record (there are exemptions for children under the age of 12 years), have undertaken a test within 72 hours of departure, must undergo compulsory quarantine for 21 days in a designated quarantine hotel, must undergo six tests in quarantine plus self-monitoring in the seven days following quarantine and take a final test on day 26.
Group B, or medium risk, includes all countries which are not Group A or Group C and are outside of China. Group B arrivals can be non-resident but they must be fully vaccinated.
Arrivals must have a negative departure test, a vaccination record and must undergo a 14-day quarantine in a designated quarantine hotel with four tests plus seven days of self-monitoring and a final test on days 16 and 19.
Non-vaccinated arrivals from Group B countries must be Hong Kong residents and must undertake a 21 day quarantine with all associated testing.
Only New Zealand currently falls under Group C, or low risk.
Arrivals can be residents or non-residents and can be fully vaccinated or unvaccinated. Vaccinated arrivals must quarantine in a designated hotel for seven days with all associated testing and non-vaccinated arrivals must quarantine for 14 days with all associated testing.
Mainland and Greater China
Hong Kong is currently operating a number of quarantine-free schemes for those arriving from Mainland China, Taiwan and Macao, including Return2hk (for Hong Kong residents arriving from Mainland China); Come2hk (for non-Hong Kong residents arriving from Guangdong); and Exemption from Compulsory Quarantine Arrangement for Travellers from Mainland China and Taiwan (the reason for entry into Hong Kong must fulfil certain criteria, such as for business or work purposes).
Arrivals from Mainland China, Macao and Taiwan who do not meet the above criteria and are fully vaccinated must undergo a seven day quarantine at home or in a hotel and take two tests during this time, plus testing on days nine, 12, 16 and 19. If they’re not vaccinated, they must undergo a 14-day quarantine at home or in a hotel, take three tests while in quarantine, plus testing on days 16 and 19.
The Red Dot is updating its border rules this month, with several countries moving to lower risk categories from October 6.
From November 1, long-term pass holders and their dependents must be fully vaccinated to return to Singapore, including those entering under the Student’s Pass Holder Lane. Long-term pass holders under 18 years will be exempt, but children aged between 12 and 18 years must receive full vaccination within two months of arriving in the city.
Over the course of the pandemic Singapore has established an involved travel system, including Air Travel Passes, Reciprocal Green Lanes and categorisation of countries to determine what travellers’ Stay Home Notice (or SHN, a period of self-isolation) is on arrival in Singapore.
Air Travel Pass
An ATP enables short-term visitors to enter Singapore without serving a the standard 14-day (soon to be reduced to ten-day) SHN, if they are travelling from a country recognised under this scheme. Instead, they simply need to self-isolate for one to two days as they wait for the result of their arrival test result.
Countries eligible for an ATP include Hong Kong, Macao, Mainland China, New Zealand and Taiwan.
Bilateral green lanes
These lanes were set-up for quarantine-free essential business or official travel. So far, Singapore has established such an arrangement with China (for travellers from Chongqing, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Tianjin and Zhejiang) and Brunei.
Quarantine-free travel lanes
Fully vaccinated travellers departing from countries listed under this scheme can enter Singapore without serving an SHN.
Arrivals must be fully vaccinated, which means the scheme does not apply to children under the age of 12.
Travellers must fly to Singapore on non-stop designated flights run by Singapore Airlines or Lufthansa; travellers must pre-pay for their day three and day seven PCR tests and must have proof of full vaccination; further testing includes a departure test within 48 hours of travel, an on-arrival test at Changi Airport, and post-arrival tests on days three and seven at designated clinics in Singapore.
This is the only scheme that also applies to Singaporeans wanting to travel for leisure purposes and is the first scheme to opens up a quarantine-free leisure travel route between Asia and Europe.
Countries currently included in the scheme include Germany and Brunei.
From October 6, border measures for incoming vaccinated residents (non-residents require official approval to enter Singapore unless travelling under the schemes listed above) will be based on the traveller’s immediate 14 day travel history rather than their 21 day history. Stay Home Notices (SHNs) will also be reduced from 14 to ten days for vaccinated travellers from higher risk countries.
Travellers who have received vaccinations overseas must update their records with Singapore’s National Immunisation Registry within two weeks of completing their SHN or self-isolation.
Hong Kong, Macao, Mainland China, Taiwan. Arrivals must test on arrival.
Australia, Brunei, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Sweden.
Travellers must take a PCR test within 48 hours of departure, an on-arrival test and undertake a seven-day SHN at home. A final PCR test must be taken on day seven.
Austria, Bahrain, Bhutan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, Fiji, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Maldives, Norway, Slovakia, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Travellers must take a departure test within 48 hours of travel, an arrival test, undertake a ten-day SHN either at home or in a dedicated facility, a day three and day seven self-swab Antigen-Rapid Test and a final PCR test on day ten.
All other regions and countries.
Travellers must take a departure PCR test within 48 hours, an arrival test, undertake a ten-day SHN in a dedicated facility, day three and day seven self-swab Antigen-Rapid Tests and a final day ten PCR test.
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