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Singapore-Malaysia land VTL may be opened up to general travellers from mid-December: PM Lee

SINGAPORE — General travellers may be allowed from mid-December to cross the Causeway via the vaccinated travel lane (VTL) for land borders, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Monday (Nov 29).

Passengers queuing for the first VTL bus to Malaysia at Queen Street Bus Terminal on Nov 29, 2021.

Passengers queuing for the first VTL bus to Malaysia at Queen Street Bus Terminal on Nov 29, 2021.

SINGAPORE — General travellers may be allowed from mid-December to cross the Causeway via the vaccinated travel lane (VTL) for land borders, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Monday (Nov 29). 

At a news conference with his Malaysian counterpart Ismail Sabri to mark the start of the quarantine-free travel scheme between the two countries, Mr Lee said that the goal is to have more open borders between Singapore and Malaysia despite the emergence of the new Omicron virus variant that causes Covid-19.

Right now, vaccinated travellers under the scheme must be citizens, permanent residents or long-term pass holders of the country that they are entering. They will need to do Covid-19 tests as part of the clearance process.

Mr Lee said that the land and air travel arrangments between Malaysia and Singapore for vaccinated travellers began on Monday with “modest numbers” because the priority for officials was to get the scheme working.

Over time and as the public health situation remains stable, the two governments will raise travel volumes, he added.

Mr Ismail agreed, saying that the two leaders plan to gradually expand this land border scheme.

This will mean allowing bus services through the Malaysia-Singapore Second Link, which connects Tuas to Johor Baru, expanding the quarantine-free travel arrangement to trains via the route run by Malaysian rail operator KTMB and eventually, allowing personal vehicles such as motorcycles and cars to cross the border as well.

He added that the two leaders also discussed opening up air travel between Singapore and destinations in Malaysia such as Penang, Langkawi, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.

“Both of us decided that our officials should start to draw up measures for this purpose,” Mr Ismail said.

Mr Lee said that they also discussed opening a travel lane for sea borders between the two countries and resuming port calls by Singapore cruise ships in Malaysia. 

“We agreed to work towards aligning safe cruise standards and start discussions on these matters, piloting port calls between Singapore and Malaysia, and also a possible VTL to travel between Tanah Merah Terminal and Desaru in Johor,” he said.

“Of course, all this is Covid-19 permitting, because we're all watching anxiously to see what the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 does and how it will behave.”

Mr Lee said that over the past two years since Covid-19 struck, Singapore and Malaysia have worked hard to maintain essential business and official travel by implementing travel schemes such as the Reciprocal Green Lane and the Periodic Commuting Arrangement for workers, as well as arrangements for urgent compassionate travel.

“Singapore and Malaysia are close neighbours with a shared history. Our economies are extensively intertwined,” he said. “Our peoples share strong bonds of kinship, friendship and memories, so the closing of borders was very tough on both sides.”

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus travel vaccination bus Malaysia Causeway VTL

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