Coronavirus: Singapore

Quarantine-free travel extended to more countries

Travellers to S'pore via VTL need to take only pre-departure and on-arrival PCR tests from Oct 19

Travellers vaccinated against Covid-19 will be able to fly to nine more countries and return without quarantine in the coming weeks, in the Republic's biggest move to reopen its borders so far.

Travel to Singapore will also be made easier, with visitors under the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme needing only two Covid-19 swab tests in order to enter Singapore, down from the current four.

The two are: a pre-departure and on-arrival polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

From Oct 19, vaccinated travellers will be able to fly to Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Britain and the United States.

The scheme will be extended to South Korea from Nov 15, the Ministry of Transport had said on Friday.

Transport Minister S. Iswaran announced the update to Singapore's border measures yesterday during a press conference by the multi-ministry task force handling the Covid-19 pandemic.

The nine countries are already open to travellers from Singapore, or will be open by the time the VTL starts. This would allow Singapore residents to travel, including for leisure, and return without a stay-home notice requirement.

Mr Iswaran said up to 3,000 visitors will be able to enter Singapore daily via the VTLs by Nov 15.

He added that the 11 countries accounted for about 10 per cent of Singapore's annual passenger arrivals before the Covid-19 pandemic and they rank among Singapore's top 20 trading partners.

"They have significant investments, a strong business presence and sizeable communities in Singapore," he said.

"It is therefore important that we reconnect with them early."

He said while the air hub is still a far cry from where it was before the pandemic, the steps taken are crucial to rebuilding Singapore's status as an international hub.

Testing requirements for travellers coming into Singapore under the VTL scheme will be cut from Oct 19 to just a pre-departure test 48 hours before their flight and an on-arrival test.

Travellers will no longer have to take the Covid-19 PCR swab test on day three and day seven of their arrival in Singapore.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said: "The Ministry of Health's public health assessment is that the pre-departure test and on-arrival tests provide sufficient safeguards for detecting and isolating imported Covid-19 cases.

"The removal of the day three and day seven PCR tests will help reduce cost and improve convenience for VTL travellers."

Short-term visitors and long-term pass holders will need to apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass to enter Singapore under the VTL scheme.

But fully vaccinated Singapore citizens and permanent residents will be able to tap the VTL scheme without applying for the pass.

Applications for those looking to travel from South Korea under the VTL will start at 10am on Nov 8, for entry into Singapore on or after Nov 15.

Applications for the other eight countries will start from 10am on Oct 12, for entry on or after Oct 19.

All travellers entering Singapore under the VTL will have to comply with a series of requirements.

For example, effective from Oct 19, they must have remained in one or more of the VTL countries in the last 14 consecutive days prior to departure for Singapore.

"If the traveller has been in Singapore within those last 14 days, his/her stay in Singapore can be counted towards fulfilling this 14-day travel history requirement," said CAAS.

An example of this could be a traveller who plans to leave Singapore on Oct 10, fly to Britain, and travel to France and then Spain, before returning on a VTL flight on Oct 19.

Travellers entering under the VTL scheme will also have to take designated VTL flights.

More details on the VTL requirements into Singapore can be found at https://safetravel.ica.gov.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 10, 2021, with the headline 'Quarantine-free travel extended to more countries'. Subscribe