Singapore lifts quarantine for German and Brunei visitors

Transport Minister S.Iswaran (Twitter)

Transport Minister S.Iswaran (Twitter)

By Ivan Lim
Former AJA President, Contributor to AsiaN

SINGAPORE: From September 8, fully vaccinated travellers from Germany and Brunei will be able to visit Singapore for leisure without having to serve a 14-day quarantine.

Under this Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme, they will only be required to take four virus tests and undergo a brief period of self-isolation.

Germany has a high rate of vaccination and a low level of virus infections. The European country also shares Singapore’s strategy of moving into an endemic phase of living with the Covid-19 virus.

Brunei has had 1,878 Covid cases and three deaths. Over 45 per cent of its population of 395,000 has one dose of vaccination. The sultanate remains attractive to leisure travellers.

The quarantine-free travel is the latest move by the city-state to revive its prominence as a regional aviation hub. The Covid-19-induced border closure has seen traffic passing through Changi Airport plunging to 3 per cent of its pre-pandemic total, and passengers on national flagship Singapore Airlines falling to 4 per cent of its December 2019 figures.

The VTL facility was announced together with a classification system differentiating countries and regions into four zones according to border control measures.

Hong Kong adheres to a zero Covid-19 policy that is incompatible with Singapore deciding to live with the virus as an endemic disease.

As a result, their proposed bilateral travel bubble could not take off. However, Hong Kong visitors as well as those from Macau will be able to enter the republic with just one Covid-19 swab test. If the result is negative, they will be allowed to move around freely.

With its vaccinated travel initiatives, Singapore is moving forward towards its goal of becoming a Covid-19 resilient nation.

The city-state is close to having 80 per cent rate of its eligible population fully vaccinated against serious illness from the aggressive Delta variant of Covid-19 virus. However, the authorities are not rushing into the new normal of living with virus outbreaks as mild as the flu.

However, there is public concern that while new community cases had seen a decline from 322 to 290 recently, 15 elderly Covid-19 patients, included those who had been vaccinated, died within the month due to underlying health complications. So far, pandemic deaths stand at 52 out of a total of 66,812cases. On August 25, there were 118 new community cases and two imported cases.

Transport Minister S.Iswaran, who unveiled the VTL on August 19, said a start was being made with Germany and Brunei, together with safeguards. Travellers must take a pre-departure test within 48 hours of the scheduled departure flight, and on arrival at Changi Airport.

“At this very initial stage, we would be well advised to ensure that discretion is the better part of valour,” said Mr Iswaran.

As part of the financial hub’s initiatives to reconnect with other countries amid the pandemic, VTL complements the existing quarantine-free facility, tied to fixed schedules and regular tests, for senior executive of major companies to travel to Singapore for business meetings.

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