476 travellers from HK, UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia issued passes to enter S'pore

The 476 travellers are expected to arrive between Feb 25 and May 6, joining more than 36,000 others who have been granted vaccinated travel passes so far. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Nearly 500 travellers from Hong Kong, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been issued passes to enter Singapore under the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme on the first day of applications opening.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) on Wednesday (Feb 23) said 476 people from these four places have been issued vaccinated travel passes, which are required for all short-term visitors and work permit holders.

They are expected to enter Singapore between Feb 25 and May 6, adding to the more than 36,000 people from other VTL destinations who have been granted the pass so far.

The four VTLs were announced last week, as part of Singapore's gradual reopening.

VTLs with the three Middle Eastern countries were supposed to start in early December, but were deferred owing to their proximity to countries that experienced the initial waves of the Omicron variant.

By some margin, the most number of passes granted went to travellers from Hong Kong, who received 342, or 70 per cent.

The next biggest group is from UAE, who got 117 passes.

Nearly 90 per cent, or 415, of the recipients are short-term visitors. The rest are work permit holders.

Mr Han Kok Juan, director-general of CAAS, described the four VTLs as cautious and calibrated.

"It keeps the number of travellers manageable and allows the Singapore aviation sector to progressively ramp up operations to ensure a smooth and seamless Changi experience as travel volume grows," he said.

Among work permit holders, non-Malaysian males staying in dormitories or working in the construction, marine shipyard and process sectors are still not allowed to enter Singapore under the VTL.

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