|CAAS said the steps will help to reclaim and rebuild Singapore's position as a premier air hub. — Photo from The Straits Times|
SINGAPORE — Air travellers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be able to enter Singapore from more cities in Malaysia, Indonesia and India without having to serve quarantine.
Announcing the expansion of the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme on Friday (March 4), the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said it would also launch new VTLs for Greece and Việt Nam, restoring two-way quarantine-free travel with these two countries.
Earlier on Thursday, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs had said Singapore was among the 15 countries with which Việt Nam had had mutual agreement on acceptance of vaccine passports.
Travel history requirements will be eased as well for travellers entering Singapore from Europe under the VTL scheme. This means travellers with recent travel history to the entire European Economic Area (EEA) will be allowed to enter Singapore.
Transport Minister S. Iswaran said in a Facebook post on Friday afternoon that the moves are part of Singapore's plans to safely reopen its borders and reclaim its position as a global business and aviation hub.
The VTL scheme allows travellers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter Singapore without having to serve quarantine. These travellers will have to test negative in a COVID-19 test before departure for Singapore, and take another test within 24 hours of their arrival.
CAAS said the move to expand the VTL to more cities in Malaysia, Indonesia and India would facilitate travel and improve the Singapore air hub's connectivity with these key markets.
From March 16, the VTL for Malaysia would be extended beyond Kuala Lumpur to include Penang, starting with four daily flights each way between Singapore and Penang.
On the same day, the VTL for Indonesia would be extended beyond Jakarta to include Denpasar in Bali, starting with two daily flights from Denpasar to Singapore.
As Indonesia plans to launch a trial to allow vaccinated travellers to enter Bali from mid-March, this would facilitate two-way quarantine-free travel between Singapore and Bali.
The VTL for India would extend beyond Chennai, Delhi, and Mumbai to include all Indian cities. There is no start date for this, as it would depend on when airlines planning to operate the new VTL routes secure approval from CAAS to do so.
Meanwhile, vaccinated travellers from Greece and Việt Nam who are looking to enter Singapore under the VTL can do so from March 16.
Greece is already open to vaccinated travellers from Singapore, while Việt Nam has announced plans to reopen its borders to international tourists from March 15.
The Greek VTL will mean that Singapore has established two-way quarantine-free travel with all countries in Europe that have direct flights to Singapore.
Short-term visitors and work permit holders eligible to travel on the new VTLs will be able to apply for a vaccinated travel pass starting from 10am on March 13.
Fully vaccinated Singaporeans, permanent residents, children aged 12 and below, and all other long-term pass holders do not need to apply for the pass.
Since Sept 8 last year, Singapore has established VTLs with 30 countries/regions.
CAAS said that as at 11.59pm on Thursday, it has issued 348,518 vaccinated travel passes to travellers from these countries/regions for entry into Singapore between Sept 8 last year and March 16 this year.
A total of 456,215 VTL travellers have entered Singapore so far. They comprise 132,099 short-term visitors, 119,289 long-term pass holders and in-principle approval pass holders, 167,380 Singapore citizens and permanent residents, and 37,447 children aged 12 years and below.
CAAS said it will continue to monitor the public health situation and adjust border measures when needed. — The Straits Times/ANN