Good progress in talks on reopening of S'pore-Malaysia land borders: MTI

People arriving in Singapore from Malaysia in August last year, when cross-border travel arrangements between the two countries began. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The reopening of land borders between Singapore and Malaysia for quarantine-free travel could take place soon, with good progress in talks on this front.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) on Thursday (Nov 18) said it hopes to finalise details of the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme soon for people travelling between Singapore and Johor.

"Many workers from both countries have not been able to see their families for many months, and they will be one of our priorities when we reopen the land borders, to allow them to reunite with their families," said an MTI spokesman, who did not specify a start date for the VTL.

The ministry was responding to queries following media reports in Malaysia that the land borders between Singapore and Johor will open on Nov 29.

This would coincide with the start of the bilateral VTL for air travel between Changi Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Under the scheme, vaccinated travellers will be able to enter either country without serving a lengthy quarantine. Instead, they will have to test negative for Covid-19 prior to departure, and upon arrival in the destination country.

VTLs are generally unilateral moves by Singapore to allow entry into the Republic. The only exception is for Malaysia and South Korea, which Singapore had jointly launched VTLs with for air travel in both directions.

The Star reported on Thursday that Johor Menteri Besar Hasni Mohammad had announced that the VTL for land travel between Singapore and Johor will start on Nov 29.

He had said land travel between Singapore and Johor Baru will cover only long-term pass holders, such as for those working in Singapore or Johor Baru.

The opening of land borders is much anticipated among residents on both sides of the Causeway, and is seen as a more affordable and convenient way for people in both countries to travel.

Before the pandemic, Woodlands Causeway and Tuas Second Link together saw about 415,000 travellers daily.

More than 100,000 Malaysians are estimated to have remained in Singapore amid the travel restrictions.

Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong had said on Monday that Malaysia and Singapore hope to launch the VTL soon, "hopefully in a few weeks' time".

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