The gates have opened: Singapore launches first vaccinated travel lanes

Quarantine lifted for some travellers from Europe and SE Asia, while Hong Kong bubble pops for good.

Enquiries poured in within hours of the Vaccinated Travel Lanes announcement, said Steven Ler, Executive Director, Head of Travel at UOB Travel Planners.
Enquiries poured in within hours of the Vaccinated Travel Lanes announcement, said Steven Ler, Executive Director, Head of Travel at UOB Travel Planners. Photo Credit:Unsplash/ CHUTTERSNAP

In the last two weeks, Singapore has not only relaxed event restrictions but also travel rules for passengers from multiple countries — and the latest announcements on 19 August are buoying hopes that recovery is finally in sight for the battered business events and travel trade.

Starting 8 September, Singapore will launch its first Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL) with Brunei and Germany, allowing fully vaccinated passengers from both destinations to enter Singapore sans quarantine.

While they do not need to follow a controlled itinerary or be sponsored to enter, these passengers must show proof that they have remained in their country of departure in the last 21 consecutive days.

Travellers should also note that the Lion City considers a person to be fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or recognised vaccines by the World Health Organization, including Sinovac and AstraZeneca.

Additional fine print to this restriction-free deal is fulfilling mandatory Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests: one within 48 hours before departure, another on arrival at Changi Airport, and post-arrival tests on days three and seven at designated Singapore clinics.

Failure to comply is a chargeable offence, where offenders may face quarantine in a dedicated facility.

Fully vaccinated passengers from Singapore are also free to travel to both countries and, within hours of the VTL announcement, customers were making enquiries about travel to Germany, said Steven Ler, executive director, head of travel at UOB Travel Planners.

The industry veteran added that this is a golden opportunity for planners and agents to put their advisory finesse to good use — such as insurance cover, visa documents and Covid-19 testing requirements among others — since travel rules are still fragmented and a cause for traveller frustration.

In another positive move to restart travel, the IATA Travel Pass, which has been accepted for travel through Singapore's Changi Airport since May, will also now accept the EU Digital Covid Certificate and UK NHS Covid Pass.

Travel to Germany will likely comprise both corporate and leisure traffic, or blended 'bleisure' travel, Ler said.

Meanwhile, the overdue Singapore-Hong Kong bubble has popped permanently, due to the two countries' differing approach to the pandemic.

Australia, which has repeatedly hinted at Singapore as a next bubble choice after New Zealand, may also have to delay such plans following another lockdown, recently extended until end September to control the contagious Delta variant.

Additional reporting from Xinyi Liang-Pholsena.

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