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Covid-19: Vaccinated travel lane scheme extended to 9 more countries including US, UK and France; fewer tests required

SINGAPORE — The vaccinated travel lane scheme will be extended to nine more countries, after its successful implementation with Brunei and Germany, where travellers between Singapore and the two countries need not serve a quarantine order or stay-home notice.

  • Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States will be added to a travel lane scheme from Oct 19 
  • Vaccinated travellers from South Korea will be part of this arrangement from Nov 15 
  • The authorities said that post-arrival tests of travellers from Brunei and Germany already on the scheme detected no imported cases
  • As such, the third and seventh day for Covid-19 tests will be scrapped from Oct 19

 

SINGAPORE — The vaccinated travel lane scheme will be extended to nine more countries, after its successful implementation with Brunei and Germany, where travellers between Singapore and the two countries need not serve a quarantine order or stay-home notice.

Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States will be part of this arrangement from Oct 19, while South Korea will be under the scheme from Nov 15. 

The countries chosen are under Category II of the authorities’ country or region classification for border measures, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said in a statement on Saturday (Oct 9). This means that they have a similar Covid-19 risk profile to Singapore. 

Along with the addition of the new countries, CAAS also announced that travellers arriving in Singapore under the arrangement will no longer need to undergo post-arrival Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests on the third and seventh day of their stay. 

This will reduce the number of tests for travellers entering Singapore from four to two. 

CAAS said it had assessed that pre-departure and on-arrival tests provide “sufficient safeguards” in detecting and isolating Covid-19 cases.

“The removal of the day three and day seven PCR tests will help reduce cost and improve convenience for vaccinated travel lane travellers,” it said. 

At a press conference by the national Covid-19 task force on Saturday, Transport Minister S Iswaran said that there will be a total of up to 2,500 travellers arriving here daily on designated flights across the nine countries when their respective lanes open. 

Together with the arrangements with Germany and Brunei, the total number is up to 3,000 travellers entering Singapore daily. 

The 11 countries under the scheme collectively account for about 10 per cent of Singapore’s pre-pandemic annual passenger arrivals at Changi Airport, Mr Iswaran said.

These countries also rank among Singapore’s top 20 trading partners.

“They have significant investments, a strong business presence, and sizeable communities in Singapore,” he added. “It is, therefore, important that we reconnect with them early.” 

CAAS also said that children under the age of 12 and those who are medically unfit to be vaccinated are not allowed to travel under this arrangement. 

“Unfortunately, for the children who are not vaccinated, they will still not be able to travel under this arrangement,” the authority added. 

Mr Iswaran said that for children under 12, there are still flights and options for non-vaccinated travellers. 

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TRAVEL LANE REQUIREMENTS

From Oct 19, travellers who are looking to use the vaccinated travel lane must have remained in one or more of the approved countries in the last 14 days before their departure to Singapore. 

South Korea will be included in this list on Nov 15. 

“If the traveller has been in Singapore within those last 14 days, his or her stay in Singapore can be counted towards fulfilling this 14-day travel history requirement,” CAAS said. 

Travellers must also show proof that they are fully vaccinated by presenting vaccination certificates issued in Singapore or any of the approved countries under the travel lane. 

However, for all approved countries, only vaccination certificates that can be digitally verified will be accepted, and the certificates have to contain the necessary information about the travellers’ full vaccination regimen.

Similar to the arrangement with Brunei and Germany, travellers who are coming to Singapore under the scheme must take designated flights under the vaccinated travel lane. 

They may, however, transit via another country under the travel lane to take a designated flight for vaccinated travellers into Singapore.

“For example, a traveller from the US may transit via Germany to take a designated vaccinated travel lane flight from Germany to Singapore,” CAAS said. 

Travellers who are transferring or transiting through Singapore will also be allowed to travel on the designated flights under the scheme. 

“These travellers must present vaccination certificates issued in any vaccinated travel lane country or Singapore and must have remained in one or more of the vaccinated travel lane countries and/or Singapore in the last 14 consecutive days prior to travelling on a designated vaccinated travel lane flight,” CAAS said.

Such travellers will also be required to take a pre-departure PCR test within 48 hours before leaving for Singapore.

NUMBER OF TESTS REDUCED

Since the launch of the vaccinated travel lane, CAAS said that 179 travellers from Brunei and 4,497 travellers from Germany have been issued vaccinated travel passes for trips to Singapore between Sept 8 and Nov 12. 

As at Friday, 1,926 vaccinated travel pass holders from the two countries have entered Singapore and so far, there have only been two imported Covid-19 cases. 

“Both were detected at the point of arrival through their Covid-19 PCR tests; they were isolated and had no interaction with the community,” CAAS said. 

It added that the post arrival tests on the third and seventh day detected no imported cases. 

While the requirement for post-arrival tests will be dropped, travellers will still need to take a pre-departure test within 48 hours before leaving for Singapore and obtain a negative test result. 

They will also need to take an on-arrival test at Changi Airport and remain self-isolated until their test result is confirmed to be negative.

For travellers from Brunei and Germany, the adjustments to the requirements will be applicable to those who enter Singapore on or after Oct 19. 

For example, travellers who have paid for the PCR tests to be taken on the third and seventh day during their vaccinated travel pass application but will enter Singapore on or after Oct 19, they will be refunded for the test charges. 

For those entering Singapore before Oct 19, the existing requirements will continue to apply, including the need for the post-arrival tests, CAAS said. 

VACCINATED TRAVEL PASSES

Short-term visitors and long-term pass holders will need to apply for a vaccinated travel pass to enter Singapore under the arrangement.

However, fully vaccinated Singapore citizens and permanent residents do not need to apply for the pass to enter Singapore when on the vaccinated travel lane. 

With the pass, there will be no restrictions on the purpose of travel and no requirement for a controlled itinerary or sponsor.

Application for the passes will open next Tuesday at 10am for fully vaccinated travellers from Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK and the US. 

For South Korea, applications will open on Nov 8 at 10am. 

Applications for the passes must be made between seven and 30 calendar days before the intended date of entry into Singapore.

More details on the vaccinated travel lane requirements into Singapore may be found at safetravel.ica.gov.sg. 

FUTURE PLANS

Mr Iswaran said that there are plans to restore safe two-way quarantine-free travel with more countries and regions from around the world, and the authorities are “engaged in several discussions to that end”. 

Asked if Singapore can consider opening up unilaterally to all vaccinated travellers, Mr Iswaran said that there are a “variety of considerations”. 

The decision to further open up will rest on the potential impact on public health as well as “the specific assessments we have on operational elements in facilitating this”, he added.

“We want to ensure that the implementation of these measures is done well in accordance with our expectation, so that we can further extend the scheme whether unilaterally or bilaterally with confidence.” 

Asked if Singapore will consider relaxing travel restrictions with Johor in Malaysia, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said that the number of people entering and leaving the two places can be “very large” due to the land links. 

“So, the order of risk is quite different for air travel, and we have to look at this differently and consider it separately,” the task force co-chair added. 

“But we are indeed having discussions with our counterparts in Malaysia for both air travel as well as travel by land and will continue to update our measures accordingly.” 

 

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Covid-19 coronavirus vaccinated travel lane travel vaccination

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