Travelers arriving in Singapore will be electronically tagged to ensure they do not leave their accommodation for 14 days so as to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, the government said Monday.
The new measure, which takes effect at midnight next Monday, will apply to both foreigners and locals who are allowed to serve their 14-day isolation or "stay-home-notice" after arriving from overseas in their chosen accommodation instead of dedicated facilities.
"All incoming travelers, including Singapore citizens and Singapore permanent residents...entering Singapore who are serving their SHN outside of SHN dedicated facilities will need to don an electronic monitoring device throughout the 14-day SHN," the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority and two ministries said in a joint statement.
As Singapore gradually reopens its borders to international travel, and with the progressive lifting of travel restrictions, "the use of wearable electronic monitoring devices will enable such monitoring more effectively," the statement said.
The SHN was introduced in March to curb the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus by incoming travelers to the local community. Those serving the SHN in their own accommodation are not allowed to leave their residence, even to purchase food and essentials.
The device relies on GPS and 4G/Bluetooth signals to track if those who are on SHN are within the range of their place of residence.
It includes a plastic wristband which cannot be removed during the 14-day isolation period.
"Any attempt to leave the place of residence or tamper with the electronic device will trigger an alert to the authorities, who will conduct follow-up investigations," the statement said.
It is expected to help government agencies who have been monitoring SHN compliance via a combination of manual and automated text messages, phone and video calls, and physical house visits.
Currently, only travelers arriving from a small number of countries, which have reduced the number of COVID-19 infections, such as Brunei, China and New Zealand, are allowed to serve out their isolation period at their own accommodation.
Travelers arriving from other places have to isolate themselves at dedicated facilities allocated by the government.
Since June 17, Japan was also included among the small number of countries whereby travelers who arrive from there can serve their isolation period in their chosen accommodation, but it was taken off the list on July 19 due to the resurgence of infections, resulting in visitors arriving from Japan being required to be confined to dedicated SHN facilities for 14 days.
Foreigners are now required to pay for their 14-day stay at these facilities, which amounts to S$2,000 (US$1,450).
Singapore has strict laws to deter people who breach their SHN such as revoking their passport, permanent residence status and also barring them from re-entering the city-state.
It has over 52,000 COVID-19 infections, but most of them have occurred in the crowded dormitories housing low-paid migrant workers and there have been only 27 deaths from the virus so far.