Singapore expanded its border controls on Sunday (Mar 15), with stay-home notices a key tool used to prevent the spread of COVID-19 here. But what does it entail, exactly?

Passengers arriving in Singapore at Harbourfront Centre Ferry Terminal on Mar 5, 2020. (Photo: Try Sutrisno Foo)

SINGAPORE: Singapore on Sunday (Mar 15) expanded its border restriction measures even as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to worsen around the world, with stay-home notices (SHN) a key tool wielded by authorities to contain the coronavirus. 

The COVID-19 multi-ministry task force said on Sunday that from Mar 16, 11.59pm, all travellers entering Singapore with recent travel to Southeast Asian countries, Japan, Switzerland or the United Kingdom within the last 14 days will be issued a 14-day stay-home notice. 

READ: New stay-home notice with stricter measures for Singapore residents, long-term pass holders returning from mainland China

READ: 14 new COVID-19 infections in Singapore, including 9 imported cases

The Southeast Asian countries include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia, though National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said this will not apply to Singaporeans and Malaysians using sea and land crossings with Malaysia. 

SHNs have been imposed on those with travel history to mainland China (excluding Hubei province), France, Germany, Italy, Iran, South Korea and Spain previously. 

Border control measures Singapore Mar 15

Since then, CNA has received many queries from the public on the new measures. We put together these answers from the Ministry of Health to answer your frequently asked questions:

Question: Who will be issued a stay-home notice?

Answer: Singapore residents and long-term pass holders will be issued a 14-day stay-home notice if they have travelled to the following places in the past 14-days –

  • Mainland China (except Hubei province, travellers from there will be quarantined)
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Iran
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Japan (from Mar 16, 11.59pm)
  • Switzerland (from Mar 16, 11.59pm)
  • United Kingdom (from Mar 16, 11.59pm)
  • ASEAN countries (from Mar 16, 11.59pm)

From Mar 16, 11.59pm, short-term visitors with travel history in the last 14 days to ASEAN countries, Japan, Switzerland and the United Kingdom will also be issued a stay-home notice. 

They will have to provide proof of the place they will stay in to serve this notice, such as hotels or a family member’s home.   

Q: What will I need to do to comply with the stay-home notice?

A: A person issued with a stay-home notice is to stay home at all times during the 14-day period. Authorities will check on them using text messages, GPS location via their mobile phones, random phone calls and house visits. 

READ: More than 7,000 stay-home notices issued for COVID-19; checks done through GPS, photos, says ICA

Those who receive a phone call are also to take photos of their surroundings to verify their whereabouts, according to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA). 

You will also need to monitor your health closely, with temperature checks twice daily and for respiratory symptoms like cough and breathlessness. 

Q: I’m living with someone issued with a SHN. What must I do?

A: You can still live in the same room with the person issued a stay-home notice, but you’re encouraged to reduce interaction and minimise contact with them. 

For example, avoid sharing a bed, limit the time spent together at common areas within the apartment, have separate meal times and ensure the room is properly ventilated.

You are also to avoid sharing the same toilet, if possible. If it is not practical, avoid using the toilet at the same time and clean toilet surfaces more frequently. Do not share towels, but sharing of toilet paper is safe so long as it’s not stained, soiled or wet. 

Maintain good personal hygiene at all times.

Q: Will I be able to leave my home to go on food/grocery runs if I’m on SHN?

A: No. You may turn to home delivery services, or enlist the help of others for your daily necessities. 

For those delivering food or supplies, there is no need for masks or other protective equipment. These can be delivered in ways that minimise contact with the person under the SHN. 

Q: Must I see a doctor to be certified well after my 14-day SHN is served?

A: No. It is not useful to send the person who does not have symptoms to the doctor or a hospital for testing. They will not be offered diagnostic testing and will be asked to return home.

Q: What if I don’t comply with the stay-home notice?

A: You may face the following penalties if you fail to comply with the notice:

  • Be prosecuted under Section 21A of the Infectious Diseases Act
  • For a Singapore permanent resident, Long-Term Visit Pass holder, Dependant’s Pass holder, or Student’s Pass holder, the re-entry permit or pass may be revoked
  • For a foreign employee issued a work pass, this pass may be revoked
  • If the person is a full-time student, he or she may be subjected to disciplinary action – including suspension or dismissal. Foreign students may see the cancellation of their Student’s Pass or Dependant’s Pass.  

The authorities have not shied from enforcing the penalties so far. A 45-year-old man lost his PR status after breaching his stay-home notice and will be barred from re-entering Singapore, according to a February report. 

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