SINGAPORE - Those planning to buy tickets for quarantine-free travel to Singapore will have to shelve their plans for now.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Wednesday (Dec 22) that travel restrictions will be tightened amid a surge in Omicron cases in several countries and regions.
The move will buy Singapore time to shore up its defences against the new Covid-19 variant, the ministry said.
It is also working on expanding healthcare capacity and getting more people to receive their vaccinations and booster shots.
These are the changes in a nutshell:
1. All vaccinated travel lane (VTL) ticket sales to stop
Airlines will not be allowed to sell VTL tickets to Singapore for travel between Dec 23 and Jan 20. However, they can sell VTL tickets for travel to Singapore from Jan 21.
This suspension of sales also applies to those travelling under the Singapore-Malaysia land VTL.
But those who have already bought tickets, and meet existing travel requirements, will be able to proceed with their plans.
2. Singapore-Malaysia land VTL capacity to be halved
The number of quarantine-free bus trips between Singapore and Malaysia will be halved to 48 bus trips daily from Jan 21. This works out to 24 trips each way.
It comes just two days after the travel lane was expanded to allow vaccinated Singapore citizens to enter Malaysia via the Causeway, and vaccinated Malaysians likewise to enter Singapore.
The scheme previously allowed travel by only citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders of the country they are entering.
3. Air VTL ticket sales to be halved
VTL quotas and ticket sales will also be temporarily reduced after Jan 20, with the authorities saying the policy will be updated as the situation changes.
From Jan 21, ticket sales for designated VTL flights entering Singapore will be capped at 50 per cent of the allocated quota.
This means a maximum of 5,000 VTL passengers will be allowed in daily.
MOH added that all travellers entering Singapore are reminded to abide by strict testing requirements once here.
Besides the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on arrival, travellers are required to self administer antigen rapid tests (ARTs) on Days 2, 4, 5 and 6 of their arrival before going out for the day.
Supervised ART tests are required on Days 3 and 7 of their arrival.
4. Stepped-up measures to protect airport workers and air crew
All airport workers who interact with arriving passengers will have to wear enhanced personal protective equipment, such as N95 masks and face shields.
They will also have to get a PCR test every seven days, instead of the current ART regimen.
Higher-risk workers will also have to get an employer-supervised ART done on the third day of their testing cycle.
Air crew will also have to abide by an enhanced testing regime, with a supervised ART done on the third day of their seven-day testing cycle.