Singapore, on 16 February 2022, announced that it is extending the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme to several countries. These include Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, all of Thailand, UAE, Israel and a new VTL to Hong Kong. The VTL comes into force in a phased manner starting 25 February.
The decision means that vaccinated travellers will now be able to fly into Singapore from the approved countries without having to quarantine.
Singapore plans opening for vaccinated travellers
VTL scheme dates
Reports say that VTL applications will begin from 22 February. The first three countries to be part of the VTL will be UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar — all three in the Middle East. By 4 March, it will be opened for travellers in Israel and the Philippines.
“We will progressively launch VTLs with more destinations as we move towards facilitating fully vaccinated travel,” the Ministry of Health said in a press release.
The Singaporean government said that it will gradually lift the 50 percent cap on VTL travellers to let more people enter the city-state under the quarantine-free travel scheme.
Travellers coming from low COVID-19 risk countries will be able to take a supervised antigen rapid test (ART) within 24 hours of their arrival instead of the costly polymerase chain reaction test.
New Hong Kong VTL and categorisations
Singapore’s border reopening plans have been in limbo for the past three months due to the emergence of the Omicron variant.
In Hong Kong’s case, a new VTL will replace the quarantine-free entry scheme on 21 February. The new VTL will allow only the vaccinated travellers from Hong Kong to enter Singapore instead of all travellers.
There is also a change in the travel categories as part of the risk classification. Instead of the existing Category II, III and IV, Singapore will now bracket countries as Category 1, 2 and 3.
The first category will include all countries with the lowest COVID-19 infections, the second will include both VTL and non-VTL countries with different quarantine rules for each. The third will include all countries with whom travel is restricted.
In tandem, border measures for travellers arriving from 11.59 pm on Feb 21 will be simplified. The new rules are:
- A reduction in travel history requirement from 14 to seven days
- Stay-home notice duration will be standardised to 7 days across all country and region categories in view of a shorter incubation period of the Omicron variant
- Enhanced testing regime for travellers arriving on VTLs will be ceased
- 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
- Vaccinated long-term pass holders, except work permit holders, will no longer have to obtain a VTP or an entry approval to enter Singapore. They will still need to adhere to border health measures on entry
(Main and Featured images: Troy Mortier/@troyscanon/Unsplash)