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Singapore, Indonesia agree to resume 'essential' travel

Singapore, Indonesia agree to resume 'essential' travel
Singapore and Indonesia have agreed to open a reciprocal green lane for business and official travel. File Photo by Wallace Woon/EPA-EFE

Oct. 12 (UPI) -- Singapore and Indonesia have agreed to resume travel for businesses and government officials on Oct. 26, even as Indonesia remains home to Asia's second-worst COVID-19 outbreak.

Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said in a Facebook post Monday the decision to allow cross-border travel with Indonesia is part of the "gradual and calibrated steps to reopen our borders and support our economic recovery," Singapore's Straits Times reported.

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In a separate statement, Indonesia's top diplomat Retno Marsudi said the reciprocal green lane should be available to Indonesian and Singaporean citizens, as well as to Singaporean permanent residents. Applications in either country be sponsored by the host government or business, Marsudi said.

COVID-19 testing will be required and must take place within 72 hours before departure. Passengers will also be required to be tested again upon arrival, officials said.

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Visitors to Singapore will also be required to download the TraceTogether and SafeEntry mobile apps, and in Indonesia travelers will be required to be tracked via the e-HAC and Peduli Lindungi apps, according to Marsudi.

Singapore's decision to open a green lane for Indonesians comes after the country agreed to launch a green lane with Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Brunei and China.

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Teo Yik Ying of the National University of Singapore's Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health said the Singaporean government could be prioritizing economic ties despite the perceived risk of allowing travel to and from Indonesia.

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On Monday, Balakrishnan said the countries reaffirmed "excellent and longstanding relations," according to Channel News Asia in Singapore.

Indonesia has reported more than 330,000 cases of the novel coronavirus since the start of the pandemic. In August, the country began human clinical trials of a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine. China said Friday it is willing to work with Indonesia on research to "ensure affordable vaccines" across the region, the South China Morning Post reported Saturday.

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