Singapore Announces New Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs)

Singapore’s health Minister Ong Ye Kung said on February 16 that imported infections are now at about one percent of the total Covid-19 case count daily, and thus have no significant impact on Singapore’s epidemic situation.

Singapore should transition towards opening up for all vaccinated travellers, he added. Instead of an abrupt change, Singapore will take the first step now by simplifying the current border restrictions for non-VTL travellers.

Vaccinated travellers will be able to fly into Singapore from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates without quarantine from February 25, following an expansion in the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme.  The VTLs with these Middle Eastern countries was deferred back in December last year owing to their proximity to countries which experienced the initial waves of the Omicron Covid-19 variant.

From March 4, Singapore will also start VTLs for Israel and Philippines to establish two-way quarantine-free travel with these two countries. Vaccinated travellers will soon also be able to fly into Singapore from all cities in Thailand without quarantine. Currently, the VTL is only for flights to and from Bangkok.

A new VTL with Hong Kong will be launched on Feb 21. The move means that only vaccinated travellers from Hong Kong can enter Singapore without quarantine, as opposed to all travellers.

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Two-way quarantine-free sea travel between Singapore and Indonesia will also resume with the launch of VTL (Sea) from Bintan and Batam on Feb 25. For a start, the VTL (Sea) will allow up to 350 travellers weekly from Batam, and another 350 travellers weekly from Bintan to Singapore.

Singapore currently has VTL arrangements with 24 countries that include UK, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Finland, Sweden, Turkey, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, USA, Canada, Australia and South Korea.

Covid-19 border measures simplified

Singapore is simplifying its country categories for inbound travellers as part of a major review of border measures. Other changes taking effect from Feb 21 include a shorter travel history period of seven days, down from 14 currently; and a standardised seven-day stay-home notice for arrivals from all countries and regions.

VTL and Category I travellers will no longer need to perform an on-arrival polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Instead, they will have up to 24 hours from their entry into Singapore to take a supervised self-swab antigen rapid test (ART) at a testing centre. VTL travellers will also no longer need to undergo a seven-day self-supervised ART testing regime after arrival.

All travellers from countries and regions classified under Category I, such as Macau, Mainland China and Taiwan which have “very low infection rates”, will also continue to enjoy quarantine-free travel.

Singapore will introduce a new General Travel category, which will replace the existing Category II, III and IV in Singapore’s border risk classification system. This means that countries will be grouped into three distinct groups in terms of border restrictions depending on risk of Covid-19 infections.

Malaysia-Singapore VTL resumes with full capacity

The sale of airline tickets under the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) between Malaysia and Singapore will be fully resumed with 100% seating capacity with immediate effect. These quotas will also be progressively increased.

Singapore reduced the VTL quotas and ticket sales from January 20 when the country tightened its borders amid a rising number of Omicron cases overseas.

For air travel, the sale of tickets under VTL will be open with immediate effect for immediate travel, with both Malaysia and Singapore in advanced discussions on expanding the VTL by Air to Penang and Kota Kinabalu.

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