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Singapore Moves Toward ‘Living With COVID-19,’ Eases Border Restrictions for Fully Vaccinated Travelers

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Singapore joins other countries in easing its border restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers with the introduction of its Vaccinated Travel Framework.

Effective April 1, travellers who have received “the full regimen of World Health Organization Emergency Use Listing vaccines at least 14 days before arrival in Singapore” and children who are aged 12 years and below would be eligible under the Vaccinated Travel Framework to be exempted from on-arrival tests and quarantine, Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) announced in a press release on March 31.

Such travellers arriving in Singapore by air or sea would, however, still be required to submit to a pre-departure test within two days before they depart for Singapore. But for travellers entering Singapore via land (Malaysia), pre-departure tests are not required.

Pre-departure tests are also not required for children aged two and below.

The Vaccinated Travel Framework (VTF) supersedes the Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs) that were introduced in September 2021.

The VTLs marked the first phase of Singapore’s reopening of its borders and have since expanded to 32 VTLs by air and two VTLs by sea (pdf). The sea VTLs were with the Indonesian islands Batam and Bintan.

During the VTL phase, visitors could enter Singapore without having to undergo quarantine via designated VTL flights or ferries. But passenger quotas were imposed, and short-term visitors also had to apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass before their trip. Both pre-departure and on-arrival tests were also required for travellers.

However, under the new VTF, non-fully vaccinated travellers are “generally not allowed to enter Singapore” unless they are medically ineligible for vaccines or have exceptional reasons.

Entering a New Phase in ‘Fight Against COVID-19’

MOH’s announcement came after a live broadcast of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the subsequent press conference by Singapore’s Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) on COVID-19 on March 24.

In what Lee described as a “major turning point” for Singapore, the authorities launched a slew of measures to mark Singapore’s “decisive move towards living with COVID-19.”

Masks would no longer be mandatory outdoors and group sizes would be doubled from five to ten, although the one-meter safe distancing requirement would remain when masks are off.

Up to 75 percent of employees could now return to their workplaces (instead of 50 percent), and the capacity limit of events would be increased to 75 percent as well. These measures would take effect starting March 29.

Cross-border travel would be managed under the VTF, and travel would be “almost like before COVID-19.”

“This will reconnect Singapore with the world,” Lee said.

“It will give a much-needed boost to businesses, particularly the tourism sector. And help Singapore reclaim its position as a business and aviation hub.”

Keng Onn Wong

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Keng Onn Wong is a writer based in Singapore.

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