Singapore Diaries: Why going home could cost us $2000 and our visa – Living in Singapore during Covid

// Read in German

Yesterday I learned that Germany is going to be taken off the “safe-list” of entering Singapore from Friday, 15 August at 23.59 hours. What is a safe-list anyway, you might wonder. Well, the word is quite deceptive as nobody is “safe” entering Singapore these days, let alone traveling.

Singapore’s borders are still closed, but since Singapore started its reopening of the economy, a hand full of residents (which includes Singaporeans, Permanent Residents, and those on work passes, or other visas) have been granted to enter Singapore. This has resulted in an increased number of “imported cases” recently that the community is monitoring closely and wary.

If you ask me, there is no need to worry as everyone will be placed on a 14 days quarantine that comes with a “stay home notice” (SHN) after entering Singapore. They will also need to undergo a COVID-19 test before they end their SHN, as is the current requirement. A negative test result doesn’t mean that the SHN is completed prior, though, as quarantine will always last 14 days. Although in some cases it can be extended. Such as if another passenger from the airplane was tested positive. That’s what I have heard from others anyway.

The 14 days quarantine is mandatory for everyone, no matter where they are coming from, but the facilities vary. Travelers departing from most of the countries need to spent their quarantine not at their own home as the word “stay home notice” might mislead, but at a dedicated government facility, that is usually a hotel. But don’t you think this means a free-flow vacation spree at Marina Bay Sands spoiled by the Singapore government. In fact, I have heard about very different experiences. Some seem to be lucky and get a stay in a 5-star resort in Sentosa, but in any way, a common standard hotel room is not geared to the needs of somebody living there for 2 weeks straight. Which means that most places miss kitchenette and proper cleaning facilities. Also, unfortunately, in some hotels, you are not able to open windows, mostly due to security reasons on higher floors. And other than in a usual hotel stay, there isn’t any housekeeping taking care of you. In other words, you are literally locked up in a hotel room. Oh, and by the way, this comes with a price tag of 2000 SGD.

In addition to that, I have heard that in case your test is positive or you catch COVID-19 on the trip, you are supposed to pay your hospital stay and all the tests on top of that. Which is costly, to say the least. Apparently, not even health insurance is supporting this. Seems like whoever travels these days is putting themselves at great risk. Period.

However, there are a few countries that are on the “safe-list,” which means that travelers who had remained in those countries can serve their SHN at home. Still, those under the SHN must stay in their place of residence at all times and will get daily checks and need to wear an electronic device on top of all that. That way, it is ensured that nobody breaches their stay at home order and risks infecting somebody else.

To stay in one analogy here, there are basically two options for everybody entering Singapore: Depending on where you are coming from and where you have stayed 14 days before entering Singapore, you will either get locked up in a hotel room and pay 2000 SGD for that, or you will get locked up at your own home, wearing a tracking device. I don’t really like both scenarios, but you can bet which one I’d prefer.

When Singapore announced to implement tracking devices for those serving their SHN at home, we had hoped that this would mean more countries would be put on the safe-list on the longer run.

With Germany going to be taken off the safe-list from tomorrow on, those hopes fade, unfortunately. And with that, I somehow start to doubt that I will be able to see my family and friends in Germany this year at all.

There is a German idiom saying that in tough times, there is only so much you can do but waiting and drinking tea. So I will take up on that, but I might substitute the tea with wine.


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