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The Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL) with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that were deferred last year will also finally be launched this month

On February 16, Singapore announced that it will finally be launching vaccinated travel lanes (VTLs) with Hong Kong as well as other regions.

The other regions are Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which saw their VTLs deferred in November amid fears surrounding the Omicron Covid-19 variant which, at that point, was relatively new and unknown.  

From March 4, Singapore will also be starting VTLs for Israel and the Philippines and will be establishing two-way quarantine-free travel with these countries.

Vaccinated travellers will soon also be able to fly into Singapore from all cities in Thailand without quarantine.

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Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP) applications for Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will open at 10 am on February 22 and the first VTL flights from these countries are set to take off from February 25.

“We will progressively launch VTLs with more destinations as we move towards facilitating fully vaccinated travel,” said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in its press release on February 16. 

Singapore is also still set to launch its VTL between Bintan and Batam this month with applications opening at 10 am on February 22 and the first ferry trip taking place on February 25. 

The quotas for VTL flights will also be fully restored immediately while the quota for the ongoing land VTLs between Singapore and Malaysia will be fully restored from February 22. The sales for additional bus tickets will start on February 16 for people hoping to travel across the causeway and the quota is set to progressively increase, according to MOH. 

The quotas were reduced from January 20 in an attempt to control the spread of the Omicron variant. 

“We will continue to monitor the global Covid-19 situation and adjust our border measures in tandem with our roadmap to becoming a Covid-resilient nation,” MOH said.

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Border measures for travellers will also be streamlined under the new regulations. Currently, countries and regions are placed into four categories based on their current Covid-19 situation. Each category has different border measures with some stricter than others. 

However, with the update, categories II, III, and IV will be combined into a single “General Travel” category.

If you are coming in from a Category I country such as Macao, Mainland China or Taiwan, you will be able to enjoy quarantine-free travel as these countries have a low infection rate. 

All passengers travelling on VTLs will also continue to enjoy quarantine-free travel. 

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That said, a new “Restricted” category will now come into effect and will apply to countries and regions with “developing Covid-19 situations that warrant stricter border measures”.

Currently, no countries or regions fall into this category. 

If you are arriving in Singapore from 11.59 pm on February 21, take note that measures have been simplified. 

For one, Singapore is reducing its travel history requirement from 14 to seven days. The stay-home notice duration is also being standardised to seven days no matter which country or region you are coming from to account for the shorter incubation period of the Omicron variant.

Enhanced testing for travellers arriving via VTLs will also be ceased and VTL and Category I travellers will no longer need to do an on-arrival polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Rather, they will simply need to complete a supervised self-swab antigen rapid test (ART) at a testing centre within 24 hours of their arrival.

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Vaccinated long-term pass holders will also no longer need to obtain a VTP or an entry approval to enter Singapore though they will need to follow all border health measures.

“As Singapore’s incidence rate is now comparable with most overseas destinations, imported cases are unlikely to affect the trajectory of local cases,” MOH said.

“Our focus has thus shifted to facilitating inflows from travellers who are less likely to become severely ill and burden our healthcare capacity while they are in Singapore. As vaccination offers good protection against severe disease, we will continue to work towards allowing stay-home-notice free travel for all fully vaccinated travellers,” it continued. 

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