Singapore is opening its borders to more countries for quarantine-free travel as the city-state seeks to rebuild its status as an international aviation hub, and prepares to reach a "new normal" to live with COVID-19.
From October 19 fully vaccinated people from eight countries, including the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Denmark, will be able to enter the island without quarantining if they pass their COVID-19 tests.
The announcement on Saturday marks a major step in Singapore's strategy to resume international links.
The Southeast Asian nation, one of the world's biggest travel and finance hubs, is home to Asian headquarters of thousands of global companies whose executives have long relied on Singapore's connectivity.
The country, with a population of 5.45 million has been reporting record daily COVID-19 infections of more than 3000 in the past few days, though almost all the cases are asymptomatic or mild.
About 83 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated, one of the world's highest rates.
Singapore recently reimposed coronavirus restrictions to buy time to prepare to live with the disease but the step was met with some rare frustration as the government walks a fine line between reopening and preventing hospitals from getting overwhelmed.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore would reach a new normal and could lighten restrictions when cases stabilised, even if they stay in the hundreds.
"It will take us at least three months, and perhaps as long as six months, to get there," Lee said in an address to the nation, which has largely kept the virus at bay since last year with masks, contact tracing and a closed border.
The government announced measures to help locals adjust to the strategy of living with the virus, such as allowing most infected people to recover at home.
Singapore's travel program for fully vaccinated people began in September with Germany and Brunei, and will include South Korea from next month.
Australian Associated Press