Singapore has received its first shipments of the Pfizer vaccine in late December and began its vaccination initiatives soon after. Plans to provide Covid-19 vaccines to 37,000 frontline workers in the aviation and maritime sectors kicked off on 18 January 2021; as vaccination for the two business sectors begin to go into full swing.
During a visit to one of the vaccinations centres at Changi Airport Terminal 4, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said about 13,000 workers from the two sectors are already scheduled to be vaccinated this week under the Sea-Air Vaccination Exercise.
“I am encouraged by the number and I hope in the coming weeks more will come,” said Mr Ong, who himself got vaccinated during his visit to T4. Up to 7,000 aviation workers are already scheduled to be vaccinated this week, in the hopes of reviving trust in air travel and shipping amidst a new wave of global Covid-19 cases.
Priority will be given to the 20,000 frontline workers who may encounter travellers from high-risk countries, said the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).
“These include pilots, cabin crew, airport and aircraft cleaners, security screeners, passenger service agents, baggage handlers and cargo handlers,” said CAAS in a recent statement.
Ong mentions that this round of vaccinations will be integral to the recovery of the aviation sector, which has been decimated by the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Singapore is seen as an aviation hub within the SEA region and is one of the most important travel hubs in the world for both commercial and non-commercial sectors.
Having Singapore’s frontliners in aviation and maritime vaccinated will also help in terms of the country’s reputation as a safe space amid the global pandemic.
When asked if the rising number of vaccinations in other countries would affect travel entry requirements into Singapore, Ong described it as a “big question” that he hoped to be able to answer during the Committee of Supply debates for his ministry.
On whether the air travel bubble with Hong Kong would be revived by the Chinese New Year holiday, Ong declined to commit to a date, noting that the two cities had an agreement on the table, ready to be activated when the time was right. In the meantime, Singapore continues to explore options with other regions and neighbouring countries in the hopes of generating new travel arrangements.