Singapore expats cautious about travel despite reopened borders

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Singapore expats cautious about travel despite reopened borders

Expats in the financial sector in Singapore have expressed mixed reactions to the nation’s eased border measures. Some are excited to resume travel, while others remain cautious and plan to stay put despite a long separation from family and friends back home.

Singapore announced plans earlier this month to establish quarantine-free travel for vaccinated travellers to nine countries, including the US, UK, France, Spain and South Korea. This brings the total number of vaccinated travel lanes (VTLs) the Republic has signed with other nations to 11, counting two VTLs previously launched with Germany and Brunei.

Adam Davies, Singapore country director for recruitment firm Sanderson-iKas, says the VTL expansion is “great news for all concerned”, adding that it is crucial for expats to be able to visit their home countries to see their families after nearly two years apart. Singapore had previously restricted travel and tightly controlled the number of long and short-term visitors entering its borders.

With the VTLs, hiring tech talent will be easier, given the new option to source candidates from the 11 nations, while current expat employees’ morale will be boosted by their ability to travel again, says Davies. “The VTLs will help to retain key talent, rather than them wanting to move back to their home countries.”

An expat working at a global investment firm says he is looking forward to returning to Ireland for Christmas and seeing friends and family. “I’m excited for the easing of restrictions and the opening of VTLs as it’s a step back towards some form of normality,” he adds.

Others, however, have concerns. A British expat working at a global bank says he is worried about the potential for Covid cases to rise, in spite of high vaccination rates, as a result of reopened borders. “We have children who are not vaccinated as they are currently under 12, and we are not sure about the long-term effects of the virus after one has recovered,” he says. 

He says the pandemic has resulted in his employer adopting digital technologies for communication. “What we have learnt is that we can still get by without face-to-face meetings, so whilst the VTLs are good news, I believe companies will continue to take a cautious approach in the short term, and only allow business travel where absolutely necessary.”

For an Australian expat working at a global bank, his concerns centre around the risk of a sudden U-turn in policy. “For someone on an Employment Pass to travel, there are additional approvals required and it’s not clear what the rules are anymore. The situation could change in an instant and we could be stranded overseas without a way back. So for us the VTL is nice, but we are not looking to travel yet,” he says.

Photo by @shawnanggg on Unsplash

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