14 days Stay-Home Notice: What to expect

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So, I was slapped with a 14-days Stay-Home Notice (SHN) upon arrival from United Kingdom a couple of days ago. The new rule came just hours before my flight, which I had checked in for.

Why was I still flying?

I was not on a vacation in United Kingdom but on a round trip joy ride (like a typical crazy miles chaser). Alaska’s online booking system had a glitch some time last year that allowed me to book one-way Business Class from Singapore to Beijing for only 25,000 miles with a stopover in London! This itinerary would usually cost over 200,000 SQ miles. More about this in an upcoming review.

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Transiting in affected countries count?

Before my flight to London, I spoke to 2 ICA officers and 1 Singapore Airlines staff about whether or not I will be issued an SHN upon arrival even if I do not enter United Kingdom. All of them said no. It was tough explaining what I was doing as I was essentially travelling from Singapore to Singapore with a transit in London for less than 24 hours.


Photo: TODAYonline

Photo: TODAYonline

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The process

Boarding SQ 317 to Singapore went normally. There wasn’t anyone asking for any declaration before I boarded the plane. Upon arrival in Singapore 2 days ago, I was confidently walking to the automated immigration gates before an officer came to me. The conversation went like this:

Officer: Sir, did you just arrive from London?
Me: Yes, I was in transit. Will I still be issued SHN?
Officer: Oh, okay, that’s fine then.

He was the 4th person who assure me that SHN would not apply to me. So I scanned my passport and proceeded pass the first barrier in the automated machine. I then placed my thumb on the fingerprint scanner. It was “loading” for a good 30 seconds. Felt like I was in an episode of Banged up Abroad. I was then called by another ICA officer to go to the counter beside the machines. This was when I was told that transiting in the UK will count under the new law.

It made sense, in a way. Even if I stay in the transit area, I will still have UK residents around me. But what was strange was that this was not made clear on ICA’s website. Even ICA staff were not well-informed about this.

I was then made to fill up a form with my local address. There was a long queue on one side of the counter but I was brought to one with only one person in line, presumably for arriving Singaporeans. The officer also called my phone on the spot to ensure that I gave the right phone number. I was not tested.

Question marks everywhere

As I did not have any checked baggage with me, it made me wonder if I could have entered Singapore without SHN if I entered from a different terminal.

Why wasn’t the check done at the gate when passengers leave the airplane?

Why weren’t passengers given declaration forms before boarding the plane to Singapore?

Why didn’t ICA and MOH’s press release clearly mention that passengers who transited in affected will be issued SHN?

Enforcement

Here are the important points of the SHN:

  1. The day that I arrived was counted as Day 0. I can only leave home at the end of Day 14.

  2. I am not allowed to leave home at all. I have to get friends or family members to get food for me.

  3. It is not a quarantine order. I do not have to lock myself in a room or away from family members.

  4. Checks will be done on me in the form of SMSes, phone calls (voice or video) and house visits.

It is now Day 2. I did not receive any calls or messages on Day 0. I received 2 SMSes on Day 1. I clicked on the link in the first SMS to report my GPS location successfully. The second SMS came about 2 hours later but I only saw it 9 minutes later. Upon clicking on the link, the page stated that the link had expired. At this point, I was wondering if I was supposed to stare at the phone all day, every day for 14 days. I mean, what is the validity period of the link?

I received another SMS this morning while I was sleeping and again, it expired upon clicking (90 minutes later). I received a phone call an hour later telling me that the system showed that I was not in my residence. I explained about the expired links and that I was sleeping earlier. I also managed to clarify that I am required to click on the link within an hour from receiving it. This was not included in the notice that I got from ICA. The notice just mentioned “immediately”. I received another SMS just a few minutes before publishing this post, clicked on the link within a minute and location was reported successfully.

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Stay-Home Notice will apply to ALL countries tonight

From 0000 hours tonight, the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) of Singapore will issue SHN to everyone arriving in Singapore except for land and sea crossings from Malaysia.


Photo: The Straits Times

Photo: The Straits Times

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Conclusion

Before I boarded that flight to London, I was prepared to be served an SHN upon arrival in Singapore. I took all necessary precautions to mask-up and wash my hands regularly during my transit in London Heathrow. I hope that the information above can help deter you from travelling during this period especially if you have an elderly at home or have work commitment and cannot afford a 14-days SHN.

I totally get that ICA’s system will go through some problems during this run-in period when resources are very limited. I hope that it can be properly enforced soon, especially from tomorrow when all airport arrivals will be issued SHN.

It has been a horrible year for aviation and travelling in general and it is not showing any signs of improvement. The Singapore authorities are doing all they can to manage the situation but will require every one of us to co-operate with complete honesty. It is important to be socially responsible now, more than ever. I will be updating this page over the next 12 days if there are any new experiences to share.

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