No easing of travel restrictions yet, says minister

Azlan Othman

Brunei Darussalam is not easing travel restrictions for Bruneians, especially for leisure purposes, Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar said at a press conference yesterday.

The minister was responding to a query on Singapore’s decision to unilaterally open up its borders to Brunei and New Zealand, and only need a COVID-19 test upon arrival instead of having to undergo a quarantine period.

“There is a special task force that deals with such a matter. But we are not yet ready to open the border for Bruneians. We appreciate Singapore in allowing us to go there,” Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said.

From September 1, some travellers coming to Singapore from Brunei Darussalam and New Zealand will not be required to serve a stay-home notice but will take a COVID-19 test upon arrival instead, said Singapore’s Ministry of Health last Friday.

Co-Chair of the COVID-19 Multi-Ministry Task Force Lawrence Wong, during a press conference last Friday, said arrangements with Brunei and New Zealand are not reciprocal, but discussions with both countries are ongoing.

“When we are ready with the reciprocal green lane arrangements with these two countries, we will announce the details,” he said.

“Specific to these two countries, we are making a move based on the evidence, based on our assessment of risk.”

At the same time, Singapore will update its travel advisory for people who want to visit these countries. Under the current advisory, residents are advised to defer all travel abroad, except for essential business and official travel under green-lane and fast-lane arrangements.

The advisory will be updated to allow general travel to Brunei and New Zealand. People visiting these two countries are advised to check the entry requirements imposed by the respective governments, as well as take the necessary precautions.

Meanwhile, Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said there are no new strains of COVID-19 encountered in Brunei.

“When we send our sample abroad for sequencing of these genes, it is similar to our neighbouring countries such as Singapore,” he said.