Singapore is reopening its borders to all fully vaccinated travellers from all countries and regions in the world from 1 April, effectively ditching its existing vaccinated travel lanes (VTLs) established between 32 destinations.
S. Iswaran, Minister for Transport and Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations announced on Thursday, 24 March that the country is “taking a decisive step to reopen our borders and reconnect with the world”.
“This shift to the vaccinated travel framework is a decisive step for Singapore, and an important signal to the world that Singapore has fully reopened its borders, that we are reconnecting with the world,” Iswaran said.
Come one, come all to Singapore
Since the establishment of its VTLs, nearly 600,000 travellers have entered Singapore. Now with the VTLs being dropped, the country will launch its new vaccinated travel framework (VTF) on 1 April. Under the new VTF, the Ministry of Health has set a new baseline to streamline the country/region classification into two categories: general travel or restricted.
From 1 April 2022, all fully vaccinated travellers from any country or region will be allowed to enter Singapore, quarantine-free, provided they have not been in countries or regions on the restricted list in the preceding seven days. At the time of the announcement, there are no countries on the restricted list. This means that inbound travel to Singapore is literally opened to everyone from all over the globe.
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Easy, breezy arrival into Singapore
“Along with this shift, we will streamline our processes to make travel more convenient,” Iswaran declared, with the following changes applicable for only fully vaccinated travellers:
- Vaccinated travel passes are no longer required to enter Singapore.
- Any flight or ferry into Singapore immediately grants quarantine-free travel.
- Testing measures will be eased, and on-arrival tests removed. However, travellers will still need to submit a negative pre-departure test taken within two days of departure for Singapore.
- The SG arrival card will be simplified. The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) will soon release details.
On the topic of still having to take a pre-departure test, the Ministry of Health said that this precautionary measure serves to combat rising Covid-19 cases in some parts of the world, and this requirement will be reviewed again in two to four weeks’ time by mid-April, taking into account the prevailing public health assessment.
Soaring ahead in aviation and airport processes
Iswaran added that the Ministry of Transport “has also been working with our aviation and maritime partners on operational adjustments in our airports and ferry terminals to prepare for the shift to the vaccinated travel framework.”
As Singapore drops its designated VTL flights and quotas, airlines can submit their plans to CAAS and operate flights as they used to pre-Covid. Alongside that, air crew can resume normal activities in Singapore, or overseas, and will only need to take a test prior to re-entering Singapore, similar to vaccinated travellers.
Airport workers will no longer be subjected to routine testing and their only requirements will be wearing surgical masks, or face shields and gloves for those in higher-risk positions.
Changi Airport will also no longer be separated into zones. This means that all travellers transiting, departing, or arriving can move around freely in the transit areas, and enjoy the retail and F&B outlets which will be progressively reopening. In gearing up for higher traveller volumes, the aviation sector is ramping up recruitment and recalling their experienced workers.
“With these moves, our aim is to welcome airlines back to Singapore, to serve Singapore and the region and raise passenger volumes to at least 50% of pre-Covid levels this year,” Iswaran said. “And restore the traveller experience that Changi is renowned for.”
It’s getting more free-and-easy
Singapore has also revised some of its biosecurity protocols, allowing for more freedom and movement for leisure, business and recreational activities. While the country’s mandated 1m safe distancing rule still applies between groups when masks are off, some of the many relaxed measures that will take effect from 29 March include
- Group size: The maximum social group size is increased from five to 10 people. Meaning that people can dine out or gather in public spaces in groups of 10 now
- Mask-wearing: Wearing masks outdoors will be optional, but masks are still required to be worn at all times indoors
- Event capacity: Large-scale events and conferences with over 1,000 participants will have its capacity limit increased to 75%.
- Wine and dine: F&B establishments will once again be allowed to serve alcohol after 10.30pm.