Singapore will extend Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs) to six more countries next month. From December 14, travellers from Thailand may enter Singapore under the quarantine-free VTL. Travellers from Cambodia, Fiji, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Turkey can do so from December 16.
This latest move will increase the number of VTL countries with Singapore to 27. Pre-pandemic, these 27 countries contributed to about 60% of the total daily arrivals at Changi Airport.
Thailand reopened its borders to vaccinated travellers from more than 60 countries, including Singapore, on Nov 1. Cambodia reopened its borders to all vaccinated travellers on Nov 15. Turkey is also already open to quarantine-free vaccinated travel from Singapore. Fiji will reopen its borders to vaccinated travellers from 40 countries, including Singapore, from Dec 1.
However, European and Asian countries tightened travel restrictions on Friday after a new and possibly vaccine-resistant coronavirus variant – “Omicron” – was detected in South Africa. Two travelers in quarantine in a hotel in Hong Kong tested positive despite being fully vaccinated and in separate rooms across the hall from one another. The new strain was detected in a Belgian resident who has no known links to southern Africa. More countries have started to report the detection of this new variant in their countries.
Many countries including Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, the UK, USA, Canada, and the entire EU bloc had banned all direct air travel into or out of eight or more African countries including South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. More travel restrictions are expected to be imposed with more countries enforcing travel bans and quarantines.
All vaccinated travellers arriving in Australia’s New South Wales and Victoria from an overseas country must self-isolate for at least 72 hours, effective immediately. This is amid concerns over the new Omicron COVID-19 variant. Travellers must also get a COVID-19 PCR test. Health officials in Australia said Sun they had detected the Covid-19 Omicron strain for the first time after testing two passengers from southern Africa who flew into Sydney.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) said there were no changes to the airline’s Melbourne and Sydney schedules. SIA added Sydney and Melbourne to its quarantine-exempt VTL services from Nov 8. SIA is also adding more flights from Australia under the VTL scheme. Vaccinated passengers from Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth will be able to forego quarantine when arriving in Singapore from early 2022. VTL flights to Adelaide and Brisbane will commence on Jan 15 and to Perth on March 1.
SIA will also open up additional vaccinated travel lane (VTL) flights from Jan 17, from Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, London, Milan, Munich, New York, Paris, Rome, Seattle and Vancouver. From Jan 19, it will operate such flights from Houston and Manchester as well. VTL flights from Kuala Lumpur, Sweden and Finland will start from Nov 29.
Travellers going between Singapore and the EU will have an easier time proving their Covid-19 vaccination status as Covid-19 certificates issued by Singapore are now recognised as the equivalent of the EU’s Digital Covid Certificate. Singapore is the first South-east Asian country to have its certificate recognised in this manner.
The EU’s digital certificate proves that a person has either been vaccinated against Covid-19, received a negative test result or recovered from the disease. To this date, there are 51 countries and territories in five continents that are now connected to the EU Digital Covid Certificate system.