At Long Last, Malaysia and Singapore Will Reopen the Border!

Singapore Changi Airport | Image Credit:
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After a seemingly interminable closure, the neighbouring countries have agreed to reopen their mutual border with effect from November 29.

After more than a year and a half of closure (punctuated by the occasional failed ‘travel bubble’ efforts here and there), Malaysia and Singapore will finally reopen their mutual border with a special Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) between Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Singapore Changi Airport.

Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong released a joint statement on November 8 explaining the decision: “Given the significant progress that both countries have made in vaccinating their respective populations and managing the Covid-19 pandemic, the Prime Ministers agreed that it is timely to progressively resume cross-border travel between both countries, in a safe manner.”

Accordingly, the statement said, “Malaysia and Singapore will launch a VTL between Changi Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport from November 29.”

The statement further noted that Ismail Sabri and Lee Hsien Loong spoke over the phone on Monday to finalise the planned reopening.

Under the VTL scheme, fully vaccinated travellers will be able to travel between Singapore and Malaysia and be subjected to Covid-19 tests in lieu of serving a quarantine period or a stay-at-home notice. It was not immediately clear if PCR tests would be mandated, or if the far less costly RTK antigen tests would be accepted. It was similarly unclear if tests would be required at the point of departure or upon arrival. (Requiring a test at both would be virtually unthinkable.)

The border between Singapore and Malaysia has been closed since March 18, 2020 – the beginning of the first MCO in Malaysia and a date likely etched in the memory of every resident of the country.

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