Forum: Take a more liberal approach to vaccinated travel lanes

I applaud the Singapore Government's recent moves to progressively ease border measures. This bodes well for Singapore's reputation as an international business hub.

Business travellers, expatriate talent and many Singaporeans are highly mobile groups of people who rely on open borders to facilitate social and economic exchanges.

Nevertheless, in a recent Bloomberg interview, fund manager Mark Mobius said that the exodus of foreign talent at the start of the pandemic and the lack of travel corridors have made Singapore uncompetitive. There is an economic urgency to further relax Singapore's border measures.

The science has demonstrated that carefully calibrated Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) policies pose minimal transmission risks to the local community, suggesting that there is also room to accommodate a more enlightened approach to VTLs.

The VTLs are bilateral agreements that allow passengers to travel freely between Singapore and another country. But this is bureaucratically cumbersome and impractical on a larger scale. Moreover, by designating only select flights as VTL flights, the authorities also artificially curb supply, which inflates prices.

The VTLs should be primarily about ensuring ease of entry to Singapore - gaining accessibility to another country should be seen as a bonus. To this end, the authorities should take a more liberal approach by welcoming both local and foreign airlines to establish their own VTL flights, operating flights carrying fully vaccinated passengers between Singapore and countries in the Ministry of Health's Category I and Category II.

This would ensure that the spirit and safety parameters of the VTLs are preserved, and that the vitality of our city is more quickly restored.

Jeremy Chua Jiakai

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