Singapore plans to set up pilot programs to allow business travelers vaccinated against COVID-19 from some countries to enter on controlled itineraries next month as it charts a cautious international reopening that extends to local restrictions.
Singapore is in talks with Germany, Australia, Canada and South Korea to be the first batch of countries for such arrangements, although it is also looking at the possibility of leisure travel, Singaporean Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong (顏金勇) told Bloomberg News in an interview yesterday.
Factors such as infections, vaccination rates and the ability to control outbreaks would be considered in these discussions, Gan said.
“In the pilot, we are likely to focus more on business travel, but beyond business travel, we are also looking at the possibility of leisure travel, particularly to those safer countries, those with a lower infection rate,” he said. “We will need to pilot-run some of this with an organized itinerary, probably with organized tour groups, to be able to find ways to bubble-wrap them for the journey and with specific designated places that they can visit.”
Singapore — which has a vaccination rate that is among the world’s highest, according to Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker — is aiming to reopen to the world and emerge from the pandemic relatively unscathed by high hospitalizations and death tolls.
At 76 percent full inoculation, the country is on track to be ahead of its schedule to reach 80 percent by early next month, a milestone where officials have pledged to ease more measures, particularly on border reopening.
Still, such relaxation will be done in a careful manner and local rules on gathering sizes could still be intact for a while as more people enter the country, Gan said.
“The two are interlinked,” he said. “If we continue to keep our borders closed and just among ourselves, I think we will be quite ready to open up domestically, but because we are going to open up the border, which is a major effort, and potentially a higher-risk measure, therefore we will need to ensure that domestically within the community we continue to have reasonable basic safe management measures in place.”
Already, Singapore is loosening controls to allow vaccinated foreign workers to enter the country, as well as plans to bring in laborers in the construction sector.
“We may be the first country who has a high vaccination rate, and yet taking a step-by-step approach to reopening,” Gan said. “We are seeing whether this approach in fact is a better approach to allow a safe opening, yet at the same time allow more activities to happen.”
Such a move might ultimately prevent a reversion to lockdown measures, which have frustrated businesses and residents, he said.
US crude futures on Friday topped US$80 a barrel for the first time since November 2014 as a global energy crisis boosts demand at a time when OPEC+ producers are keeping supplies tight. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for November delivery popped above the key psychological level before pulling back and closing up 1.34 percent at US$79.35 a barrel, gaining 4.57 percent from a week earlier. Brent crude for December delivery increased 0.54 percent a barrel to US$82.39, up 3.92 percent from a week earlier. This week brought many indications that supplies would remain constrained: Saudi Aramco said a global natural gas shortage was
Units of Intel Corp and Samsung Electronics Co are targeting to resume full operations of their Ho Chi Minh City plants by the end of next month, a move that could provide relief to global supply chains. Saigon Hi-Tech Park is helping its tenants, many of which are running at about 70 percent capacity, to operate fully next month, park deputy manager Le Bich Loan said in a phone interview. She did not elaborate on the steps the park is taking, particularly efforts at bringing back workers who fled to home provinces. The Ho Chi Minh City unit of Nidec Sankyo Corp,
CHIP CRUNCH: Apple’s woes show that even the king of the technology world is not immune from global shortages made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic Apple Inc is likely to slash its projected iPhone 13 production targets for this year by as many as 10 million units as prolonged chip shortages hit its flagship product, people with knowledge of the matter said. The company had expected to produce 90 million new iPhone models in the final three months of this year, but it is now telling manufacturing partners that the total would be lower because Broadcom Inc and Texas Instruments Inc are struggling to deliver enough components, the people said. Apple gets display parts from Texas Instruments, while Broadcom is its longtime supplier of wireless components. One Texas
Down a dusty farm track in Chilean wine country, behind a wooden gate wrapped in chains, forestry experts are nursing a plantation of saplings whose bark holds the promise of potent vaccines. Quillay trees, technically known as Quillaja saponaria, are rare evergreens native to Chile that have long been used by the indigenous Mapuche people to make soap and medicine. In the past few years, they have also been used to make a highly successful vaccine against shingles and the world’s first malaria vaccine, as well as foaming agents for products in the food, beverage and mining industries. Now two saponin molecules,