Singapore will expand quarantine-free travel to Hong Kong, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this month, its health ministry said, resuming border reopening after a pause due to an outbreak of the coronavirus. The city-state will also restore and increase quotas under its vaccinated travel programme, which had been reduced in December to deal with the Omicron variant.
The Ministry of Health said that Singapore’s incidence rate is “now comparable with most overseas destinations” and therefore “imported cases are unlikely to affect the trajectory of local cases”.
The country is streamlining its travel categories into three categories:
- Category I – applies to visitors from countries with low infection rates (Macau, Mainland China and Taiwan)
- General Travel – includes both VTL and non-VTL countries with different quarantine rules for each
- Restricted – this will be used for countries/regions with concerning Covid-19 situations (there are currently none)
From February 21 at 2359, travellers under Category 1 and those travelling under VTL arrangements will no longer need to take a PCR test upon arrival in Singapore and will be free from quarantine. Instead, they will have to take a supervised rapid antigen test within 24 hours of arrival in the country at one of the testing centres across Singapore.
The new rules also include:
1. A reduction in the travel history requirement from 14 to seven days.
2. The stay-home notice duration will be standardised to seven days across all country and region categories in view of Omicron’s shorter incubation period.
3. Vaccinated long-term pass holders (except work permit holders) will no longer have to obtain a Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP) or an entry approval to enter Singapore. They will still need to adhere to border health measures on entry.
With this news comes the expansion of Vaccinated Travel Lanes, with VTL air quotas to be “fully restored with immediate effect”. The restoration of land quotas will follow on February 22.
Singapore will launch VTLs with Hong Kong, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. A sea VTL will also launch from Indonesia’s Bintan and Batam to Singapore – travellers from Indonesia can already fly into Singapore under a VTL arrangement.
Applications for travel from these areas will open on February 22 at 1000, and the first flights and ferry trip will take place on February 25.
The Ministry of Health states that it will “progressively launch VTLs with more destinations” as it moves towards “facilitating fully vaccinated travel”.Singapore’s low-cost subsidiary Scoot announced that it is expanding its Vaccinated Travel Lane network to 17 destinations.