VTL scheme extended to 6 more countries, including Thailand and Maldives, from December
SINGAPORE — Singapore will start quarantine-free travel lanes with six more countries, including Thailand and Maldives, next month, Transport Minister S Iswaran announced on Friday (Nov 26).
- Singapore will extend the vaccinated travel lane scheme to Thailand, Maldives, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Fiji
- From Dec 14, travellers from Thailand may enter Singapore through this arrangement
- Travellers from the other five countries can do so from Dec 16
- With the extension, the daily quota for the scheme will climb from 10,000 to 15,000 travellers
SINGAPORE — Singapore will start quarantine-free travel lanes next month with six more countries, including Thailand and Maldives, Transport Minister S Iswaran announced on Friday (Nov 26).
The other countries are: Cambodia, Fiji, Sri Lanka and Turkey, taking the total number of countries in the vaccinated travel lane (VTL) scheme to 27.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said that from Dec 14, travellers from Thailand may enter Singapore through this arrangement, where vaccinated travellers have to take Covid-19 tests in place of serving quarantine.
Those from Cambodia, Fiji, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Turkey may do so from Dec 16.
With this extension, the daily quota for the travel lane scheme will climb to 15,000 travellers, up from 10,000.
CAAS said that this arrangement was for entry into Singapore.
“Travellers are advised to check the entry requirements imposed by the respective VTL countries, which may vary across countries and may change as the Covid-19 situation evolves,” the civil aviation regulator added in a press statement.
Cambodia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Turkey already allow entry for vaccinated travellers from Singapore. Fiji will follow suit next month.
Mr Iswaran said at a press briefing: “The VTLs will therefore restore two-way quarantine-free travel between Singapore and these countries.”
He added that from Dec 7, Singapore would accept European Union (EU) digital Covid-19 certificates, even if they are issued in countries that do not have a travel lane agreement with Singapore. This means that vaccinated travellers with these certificates will be able to come here on the travel lane scheme.
For Singaporeans travelling to the EU, the relevant agencies are “finalising the technical linkup” to issue EU digital Covid-19 certificate-compatible vaccination and test certificates from Dec 7.
Holders of these certificates will be eligible to take part in activites tied to a person's vaccination status while in countries under the EU, he added.
CAAS said that before the Covid-19 pandemic hit early last year, the 27 countries covered by the travel lane scheme from next month made up about 60 per cent of total daily arrivals at Changi Airport.
Popular tourist spots for Singaporeans before the pandemic — Cambodia, Maldives, Thailand and Sri Lanka — have already opened their borders to quarantine-free general travel for vaccinated travellers.
For instance, Thailand reopened its borders on Nov 1 to vaccinated travellers from more than 60 countries and regions, including Singapore.
And, from Nov 15, Cambodia reopened its borders to all vaccinated travellers.
Singapore is also on Turkey's quarantine-free vaccinated travel programme.
From Dec 1, Fiji will reopen its borders to vaccinated travellers from 40 countries, including Singapore.
CAAS stated again that short-term visitors and long-term pass holders would have to apply for a vaccinated travel pass to enter Singapore under the scheme.
Fully vaccinated Singapore citizens and permanent residents, as well as children 12 years and below, need not do so.
Applications for the pass will open for travellers from Thailand on Dec 7 at 10am.
For travellers from Cambodia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Fiji, it will open on Dec 9 at 10am.
Mr Iswaran was asked about the impact that new coronavirus strains, such as one that was recently discovered in several African countries, could have if they are found to be present in countries with which Singapore has travel lane arrangements.
For instance, the variant that was first discovered in South Africa has been found in a traveller from South Africa in Hong Kong.
Mr Iswaran said that the characteristics of the new variant need to be better understood before any conclusions are drawn.
“We must be vigilant because the situation and circumstances may change very quickly, including and possibly because of a new variant of concern,” he said.
“And when it does, then we must be prepared to also take the appropriate additional safeguard measures informed by the best available public health risk assessment.”
In an update, CAAS said that as of 11.59pm on Thursday, 37,001 vaccinated travellers have entered Singapore through the travel lanes.
They comprise 20,510 short-term visitors or long-term pass holders with vaccinated travel passes, 14,788 Singapore citizens and permanent residents, and 1,703 children aged 12 and under.
At the same time, the authorities here issued 79,335 vaccinated travel passes for travellers from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
These are for entry into Singapore between Sept 8 this year and Jan 27 next year.
A few days before next Monday's launch of quarantine-free travel for vaccinated travellers between Singapore and Indonesia, Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Garuda Indonesia announced on Friday that they have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore a "wide-ranging commercial partnership", which is expected to give customers more choices in their travels.
Subject to regulatory approval, the scope of the tie-up includes the potential alignment of frequent-flyer programmes, joint marketing activities and initiatives to promote inbound tourism into Indonesia.
Garuda Indonesia will also code-share on SIA's flights to Mumbai from Jan 1 next year, subject to regulatory approval. This means that both airlines can sell seats on each other’s flights to offer passengers a greater choice of destinations.