SINGAPORE - 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 only needing two Covid-19 swab test 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 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 (Oct 8). Travellers from the nine countries will be able to enter Singapore without quarantine under the VTL scheme.
Transport Minister S Iswaran announced the update to Singapore border measures on Saturday 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.
In a statement, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said it made the decision to extend the scheme in a "cautious and step-by-step manner" to reclaim and rebuild Singapore's status as an international aviation hub with global connectivity.
It said that of the total 1,926 visitors from Germany and Brunei, who as at Oct 8 came in under the VTL scheme, there has only been two imported cases. Both were detected on-arrival.
"With the experience and confidence gained from the VTL for Brunei Darussalam and Germany, we will extend the VTL to nine more countries," said CAAS.
It said the nine new countries are classified under Category II of the Ministry of Health's (MOH) border risk classification.
There are four categories in the classification, with countries in Category I deemed to be of the lowest risk of Covid-19 infections, and countries in Category IV deemed to be of the highest risk.
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 3 and Day 7 of their arrival in Singapore.
"The Ministry of Health's (MOH) public health assessment is that the pre-departure test and on-arrival test provide sufficient safeguards for detecting and isolating imported Covid-19 cases," said CAAS.
"The removal of the Day 3 and Day 7 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 automatically 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. Travellers will then be able to enter Singapore on or after Oct 19.
All travellers entering Singapore under the VTL will have to comply with a series of requirements.
Effective from Oct 19, VTL travellers 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.
In terms of testing, VTL travellers from overseas will have to test negative in their pre-departure and on-arrival tests. They will have to remain isolated in Singapore until their on-arrival test is confirmed to be negative.
On vaccination, CAAS said all VTL travellers must be fully vaccinated and have proof of it. They have to be vaccinated in a country under the VTL or Singapore.
Travellers entering under the VTL scheme will also have to take designated VTL flights into Singapore. More details about these flights will be announced by airlines soon.
Short-term visitors who require a visa for travel to Singapore must separately obtain a visa. They should do this after receiving approval to enter and before departing for Singapore.
They must also purchase travel insurance, with a minimum coverage of $30,000 for Covid-19-related medical treatment and hospitalisation costs, prior to travel to Singapore.
More details on the VTL requirements into Singapore can be found at this website.