Singapore announces new VTLs with Hong Kong, Philippines, expands arrangement with Thailand
The expansion of the Vaccinated Travel Lanes scheme includes the surrounding Asian region to as far as the Middle East.
Fully vaccinated Singaporeans will soon be able to travel to more countries, with an expansion of the Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL) scheme.
The expansion was announced by Minister of Transport S Iswaran at the Multi-Ministry Task Force press conference on Wednesday (Feb 16). It includes countries such as Hong Kong, Philippines, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
Starting from Feb 25, fully vaccinated travellers from the Indonesian islands Batam and Bintan will be able to enter Singapore without the need of a Stay-Home Notice. Short-term visitors from Indonesia will need to apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass and meet all prerequisites.
The initial rollout will see a collective total of 700 travellers from both islands weekly. Applications for the sea VTL will open online on Feb 22.
A VTL with Hong Kong will also start from Feb 25. The current unilateral opening arrangement will cease on Feb 17, after a recent assessment of the public health situation in Hong Kong. This means that only vaccinated travellers, instead of all travellers, from Hong Kong can enter Singapore without quarantine.
The VTL with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will finally take place from Feb 25. VTL arrangements with these countries were supposed to start in December, but were put on hold due to the spread of the Omicron variant.
Travellers from the four countries and regions will need to apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP), with the first flight taking place from Feb 25. Applications for the VTPs will open at 10am on Feb 22.
The current VTL arrangement with Malaysia will also be expanded. The existing travel bubble only allows air travel to Kuala Lumpur and land travel to Johor.
The Ministry of Transport (MTF) plans to include the states of Penang and Kota Kinabalu in the arrangement and are in advanced discussion with Malaysia.
Land VTL quota will also be fully restored from Feb 22, with additional bus tickets sales beginning on Feb 16. The land quota had been reduced by 50 per cent in December, after the surge in Omicron cases.
Mr Iswaran also announced new VTLs with the Philippines and Israel, which will start from Mar 4. VTP applications for these countries will open on Mar 1 at 10am.
The current VTL arrangement with Thailand will also be extended beyond Bangkok to include all cities in the country.
Flights from Thailand will also extend beyond Bangkok to include all cities in the country.
As for the Philippines, a new VTL will kick in from Mar 4, thanks to the recent reopening of its borders to vaccinated travellers from Singapore.
The MTF is also looking into enhancing the existing network of 11 VTLs for Europe.
“We are studying how we can enhance this network and will announce more details in due course,” said Mr Iswaran.
“Our ultimate goal is quarantine-free travel for all vaccinated travellers,” he added.