Updated: Jan 18
"I was quarantined in Singapore from 8th to 29th April 2021 during the COVID pandemic, so here what it's like." - Adam Hyslop
I was travelling from the UK and needed to go back to China where I currently live. There were no direct flights from the UK, but I was lucky to be able to travel to Singapore first since I have my PR (permanent residency) there. Only Singaporean Citizens and PR can travel to Singapore and some transit passengers. There was just one flight from the UK to Singapore per week and it was with Singapore Airlines. I must say that the fare with Singapore Airlines was normal and was a fair price.
Adam Hyslop Staying Safe and Sane during Quarantine
Countries around the world have gone through their cycles of infection, lockdown, restrictions, opening up, quarantines. Getting through this seemingly neverending experience of COVID-19 can feel like asking someone who has never run in their lives to suddenly do an ultramarathon race. It is hard to see the end in sight.
The saving grace of the human species is, we do our best to survive, and adaptability is one of our strengths that help us to move through a difficult situation. In our current climate, quarantine has now become something common, and like it or not, it is something that we have to experience if we need to travel to specific locations that are more affected by COVID-19.
I wanted to share some of my thoughts and experiences during one of my recent quarantine periods. Why would anyone want to read about what someone has been doing cooped up inside a room for two weeks you ask.
Everyone has a different way of coping, and there is no right or wrong way to do it. There were many little things that made my quarantine experience bearable and I even found moments of surprise and delight. A friendly chat with a stranger. A balcony. Technology giving access to so many things. Ordering a yoghurt.
For those who need to travel during this time, quarantine may elicit a groan. Read on, and perhaps you may feel some relief knowing that there are many workers in the entire system doing their best to ensure people in quarantine are taken care of.
The prerequisite to fly to Singapore
Have your entry permit and pay for the COVID test upon arrival (SDG160). That’s all. No COVID test was needed before my departure from London. There were around 50 people on board, appropriately distanced, and the service was simply the best from SQ as usual. Many people, particularly the younger ones, had full hazmat suits on. To each his own. The menu is now digital and the care package with the socks and eye mask has been replaced with hand sanitisers, face masks and antibacterial pads to wipe the touch screens.
Upon entering Singapore, we were split into groups of 8 and greeted by medical staff who took us through a concise and well organised process of meet and greet, COVID test, immigration clearance, baggage collection and then transport to the hotel. Definitely appreciating efficiency and organizational skills here.
COVID tests are never nice so one must be brave! I spoke with a Singaporean passenger on the mini bus to the hotel and this had been the third time he had been through this process since he has business in the UK and still needs to travel. The total quarantine time is 2 weeks in a dedicated hotel facility plus a 1-week stay at home notice. I was wondering what to do for the rest of the time. We joked that we were lucky this time because the US Masters Golf competition was about to start, so that would take up the first 4 days.
Guess the Hotel
I did have a look at the list of approved quarantine hotels in Singapore and stay at home notice and the list is long. Literally hundreds of hotels.
I had a hunch that we would be placed downtown. I was thinking about Swissotel Stamford and guessed it out loud on the bus. We continued driving over the bridge and turned off at the Singapore Flyer, then made our way onto North Bridge Road, Bras Basah and finally ... turned into the Swissotel! Wish I could be this accurate with guessing lottery numbers!
So that was really lucky for us to get this hotel. Check-in was quick. Again, appreciation for efficiency! I paid the standard SGD 2,000 for the 14 days, signed a few documents about abiding by the rules, e.g. not to leave the room and to wear a mask on the balcony. A balcony? Seriously, I cannot get luckier than that.
I said my goodbyes and wished good luck to the other quarantine participants. They were my last face-to-face contacts and now I had to be ready to be cocooned by myself for the next two weeks.
I made my way to my room and I must say I was very pleasantly surprised, even delighted with the room. Imagine this - 35th floor, spacious, two beds, LED TV, fridge, bath, desk, balcony and a view overlooking one of Singapore best skyline, the Padang, Cricket Club and CBD area — spectacular!
We had to order food on the day before by scanning a QR code and filling out the menu online. There were three options each for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food was good, mainly a fusion of Singaporean, Malay and Indian with some western options. The portions were decent, adequate and served in a plastic tray and always piping hot. There were some vegetarian options too which were good. I was grateful for the attention to detail and options.
I managed a few days on these meals alone but then discovered Deliveroo and did on occasion succumb to ordering a sandwich or two and some items from Cold Storage including fruit, nuts, yoghurt, some chocolate and dare I say it, some Carlsberg. Items were delivered to the door within 30 minutes of being delivered downstairs. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised and relieved that I was able to get the food I needed (or craved) and all with such excellent organisation.
I received a daily call from the Ministry of Health to check in on my mental health and I was given a number to call should I have any questions about the stay or the process.