SINGAPORE - More than 300,000 travellers crossed the land border at Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints daily from last Friday (Aug 5) to Sunday, the highest recorded weekend travel volume since the land border reopened on April 1.
Over the weekend, long queues formed on both sides of the Singapore and Malaysia border, with some travellers standing in line for more than three hours.
In a photo posted on Facebook by radio DJs Justin Ang and Vernon A on Saturday afternoon, large crowds could be seen at the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex in Johor Bahru.
The pair, who co-host the Muttons In The Morning programme on Class95FM, said in an Instagram story that clearing Malaysian immigration and customs took them 3½ hours.
When The Straits Times visited Woodlands Checkpoint on Sunday, most of the queues had subsided after travellers chose to take the train or cross the border at off-peak hours.
Ms Michelle Lee, 40, was relieved to see shorter queues on her return to Singapore after she was stuck in a snaking queue at Woodlands Checkpoint on Friday at 6.25am.
The Malaysian flight attendant said: "Normally, there is no one there at this time. But there was a queue all the way until the bus stop outside.
"I only realised later when a friend told me it was because Singapore's National Day is on Tuesday so maybe people took the chance to go across for a short holiday before coming back to celebrate."
To avoid crowds on her return trip, Ms Lee made sure her bus commute would reach Woodlands Checkpoint by 5pm, an hour before the start of evening peak traffic.
Mr Paul Lim, 27, a finance executive, also experienced a smooth clearance at Woodlands Checkpoint on Sunday evening.
The Singaporean, who spent the weekend visiting KSL City Mall and nearby food places with some secondary school friends, said he had planned his itinerary based on his past experiences with traffic jams along the Causeway.
Mr Lim said: "We decided to go on Friday afternoon and took the train because usually those who finish work would drive in on Friday evening."
Meanwhile, the air checkpoints saw an average traveller volume of more than 78,000 a day between Friday and Sunday, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said.
ICA reminded all travellers, including fully vaccinated Singaporeans, arriving in Singapore via air or sea to submit the SG Arrival Card, which contains health declaration information, within three days before arrival.
Only fully vaccinated Singaporeans, permanent residents and long-term pass holders entering Singapore via the land checkpoints in Woodlands and Tuas do not need to fill in the card.
ICA said: "This exemption from the SG Arrival Card was in view of the high volume of traffic and daily commuters at the land checkpoints, and the Covid-19 situation between Singapore and Malaysia was largely similar."
"(The health declaration) remains an important way for us to detect upstream infectious diseases of concern that might be imported by travellers from a wide range of countries," the spokesman added, citing diseases such as Covid-19, yellow fever and Ebola.
Mr Aaron Wong, 34, who runs travel website The MileLion, said that with travel restrictions to Singapore almost entirely lifted for fully vaccinated individuals, those travelling now may have subconsciously switched back to a pre-Covid-19 mindset, when entering Singapore was as simple as scanning their passport at the electronic gate.
Mr Wong said: "Prior to Covid-19, the arrival card was exclusively for foreign visitors, which might explain the unfamiliarity among Singaporeans.
"But filling up the health declaration is important because information such as the travellers' place of departure and their exposure to Covid-19 can help the authorities screen for new and potentially high-risk Covid-19 variants."
Those who do not submit the SG Arrival Card prior to arrival will be redirected to the side of the arrival immigration hall to do so, said ICA.
Thereafter, they will have to rejoin the queues for immigration clearance which may result in delays.