S’pore’s Border With M’sia May Reopen Soon, Safety Measures Still Under Review
Many Singaporeans who used to frequent Johor Bahru (JB) for weekend trips haven’t been able to for the past 3 months, as both countries implemented border lockdowns.
Singapore’s border with Malaysia has been closed since the Movement Control Order (MCO) and ‘Circuit Breaker’ began, but Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan told Channel NewsAsia (CNA) that plans to reopen are underway.
To keep cases low and manage the flow of people moving between the countries, the border will reopen gradually, rather than all at once.
Discussions to reopen border in progress
Dr Balakrishnan emphasised in an interview with CNA, that the reopening would happen “in steps”.
This is crucial to keep transmissions low, as more movement may inevitably result in a jump in cases.
Safety measures like contact tracing would be in place, but discussions of exactly what the two countries will enforce are still in progress.
Protecting public health the top priority
In a press statement on 20 Jun, Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) stated that both countries would have to mutually agree on travel arrangements to safeguard their citizens’ health.
Since public health is a “key consideration”, Dr Balakrishnan mentioned how both countries have to figure out how to maintain safety while allowing travels.
As such, he estimated that they need “days to weeks” to sort things out, and hesitated on setting a timeline.
Opening borders like “Pandora’s box”
Since we’re still limiting interactions in Phase 2, Dr Balakrishnan likens reopening borders at the wrong time to opening “Pandora’s box”.
He explained that though the situation will fluctuate and have better and worse periods, the measures need to be flexible. They’ll need to be long-term arrangements, too, seeing as they’ll be in place for the next 12-18 months, CNA reported.
Managing a precarious situation
Though daily case numbers have stabilised for now, the situation surrounding Covid-19 is still a precarious one.
Authorities in both countries will have to consider all possible risks before making a decision, and we don’t know how long that will take.
Until then, do your part to keep yourself and others safe. The Covid-19 situation is still uncertain for now, so let’s not let our guards down yet.
Featured image adapted from CarSifu.
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