Singapore likely to add more countries for quarantine-free entry in coming weeks, months

[SINGAPORE] Vaccinated travellers from more countries are likely able to enter Singapore without having to quarantine “in the coming weeks and months”.

This comes after a successful start to the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL), with only one Covid-19 case detected among some 900 travellers who have come in under the scheme.

Transport Minister S. Iswaran said on Monday that the Republic is actively working to expand the VTL. The scheme started on Sept 8, and is open to Brunei and Germany for a start.

Travellers under this scheme will take up to four Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, in lieu of a stay-home notice.

Mr Iswaran said the results in the first two weeks have been promising. More than 900 VTL travellers have entered Singapore, and all of them have fully complied with the mandatory testing regime, he said, adding that several countries and regions have expressed interest in opening VTLs with Singapore.

Speaking at a conference held to commemorate the 20-year milestone of the Ministry of Transport, he said the VTL is an important step for everyone involved to understand and adapt to the requirements of reopening safely.

He told reporters on the sidelines of the event that the sole Covid-19 case detected among VTL travellers so far was identified in the test the traveller took upon arrival. “The case was isolated and quarantined… so what it tells us is the system is working and we are gaining confidence with it.”

Mr Iswaran said the aviation industry remains “a far cry from where we were”. He noted that Changi Airport is operating at 3 per cent of the levels before the Covid-19 pandemic, and Singapore Airlines (SIA), at 4 per cent.

He reiterated that the air hub and connectivity are critical for Singapore’s economy, and its reputation as a trusted international hub. “It may take some time for global air travel to normalise, but we will do our utmost to make sure Changi and SIA soar again.”

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) has said that, as at last Thursday, 2,322 travellers vaccinated against Covid-19 had received approval to enter Singapore.

It said that of the vaccinated travel passes issued for Germany, 962 were issued to short-term visitors and the remaining 1,279 to long-term pass holders.

For Brunei, CAAS said it has issued 74 passes to short-term visitors and seven to long-term pass holders.