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Singapore Set to Ditch VTL Schemes and Just Reopen the Country

Image Credit: Oracle
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Meanwhile, Malaysia continues to plan additional VTLs while announcing that its own borders will be opened on April 1.

After about six months of operating Vaccinated Travel Lanes, or VTLs, with various countries, Singapore is set to take the next step: abandoning them in favour of simply reopening the country to fully vaccinated travellers from everywhere.

Stressing that the time has come to move on, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung explained the change.

“Instead of having vaccinated travel lanes with selected countries that we think are low risk, we should actually allow (quarantine-free) travel for vaccinated travellers, or fully vaccinated travellers, from all countries.”

As to when the VTLs will be discontinued, Ong said that a specific date had not been set, but rather a target of “after the (current) Omicron wave has peaked and started to subside.”

Singapore has decided it’s time to move from VTLs to a full reopening | Image Credit: Bernama

Signs are pointing to that already starting to happen, so it seems increasingly likely that Singapore could soon mirror many of its Asian neighbours in achieving what Transport Minister S. Iswaran described as “our ultimate goal (of) quarantine-free travel for all vaccinated travellers.”


On-arrival testing requirements will also continue to be relaxed. Ong explained, saying, “We should actually emphasise less on (quarantine) and tests on travellers, but more on ensuring they are fully vaccinated and boosted.”

With effect from February 22, visitors to Singapore have no longer needed to take a PCR test and subsequently isolate upon their arrival at Changi Airport, a welcome change for visitors. The S$125 (RM384) cost of the PCR test had been seen as a significant obstacle to both business travel and leisure tourism.

Currently, visitors arriving from countries which fall under the the VTL scheme need only take one supervised self-swab at a recognised testing centre within 24 hours of arrival. The cumbersome regimen of daily rapid-testing throughout the first week of time spent in Singapore has also now been scrapped.

Changi Airport’s many shops and attractions will now be accessible to transiting passengers | Image Credit: Changi Airport

Moreover, passengers transiting in Changi Airport no longer need to undergo a pre-departure Covid test – and when they arrive at the airport, they’ll be free to visit lounges, shops, and other attractions at Changi instead of being confined to the rather dull Transit Holding Area.


Malaysia’s government has been teasing a reopening of the country’s long-closed borders for a month already, and though reports indicate the Cabinet decided last week on an April 1 date for the reopening – having rejected the National Recovery Council’s recommendation of March 1 – that date was only announced on Tuesday afternoon, March 8.


Additionally, it was just recently announced that all international checkpoints, including the land crossing with Singapore, are now already open, in the run-up to the April 1 reopening of the country’s borders.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri had previously stated that repening the borders is “not a priority,” but fortunately that attitude has shifted | Image Credit: Bernama via Borneo Post

Unfortunately, the endless waffling and apparent confusion, coupled with the latest surge from the Omicron variant, has led to Malaysia plunging in the latest Nikkei Covid-19 Recovery Index ranking from 10th place as of January 31 – which was a pretty decent position and Malaysia’s all-time high – to 67th place as of February 28.

For details on the much-anticipated reopening of Malaysia’s borders, CLICK HERE.

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