Singapore announces VTL with Malaysia - but only for air travel

The reopening between the neighbouring countries will pave the way for families and friends separated by Covid-19 to reunite.
PHOTO: The Straits Times, Reuters

SINGAPORE - Vaccinated travellers will be able to take flights between Singapore and Malaysia without quarantine from Nov 29.

The long-awaited reopening between the neighbouring countries will pave the way for families and friends separated by Covid-19 to reunite, as well as for workers to come in and for business links to resume.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysia Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said in a joint statement on Monday (Nov 8) that the countries will launch the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) between Changi Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

The reopening covers only air travel, and does not include land travel via the Causeway or Second Link.

"The Prime Ministers also look forward to restoring travel across the land links between both countries in the near future," said the statement.

"They were happy to note the good progress in ongoing detailed discussions on a similar vaccinated travel scheme, to reopen travel across the Causeway and the Second Link, taking into account the public health situations in Johor and Singapore."

Singapore had earlier announced VTLs with 13 other countries, including Australia, Britain and the United States.

Travellers entering Singapore under the VTL scheme do not have to serve a stay-home notice, but will instead take a Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction test prior to departure and upon arrival.

The Singapore-Kuala Lumpur air route was among the busiest in the world, before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

About half a million people from both countries made daily trips across the land borders between Singapore and Johor before the borders closed in March last year.

An estimated 100,000 Malaysians remain stuck in Singapore since then, and are hoping to be reunited with families back home.

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Currently, the Periodic Commuting Arrangement scheme - which facilitates movement of workers between both countries - allows for cross-border travel but with various conditions, including a stay-home notice.

There is a separate scheme for emergency visits in case of deaths or critical illness.

Malaysia is currently in Category III of the Health Ministry's Covid-19 risk assessment framework for border measures.

This means that travellers entering from Malaysia have to serve a 10-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) at their declared place of residence or accommodation.

According to the John Hopkins Coronavirus Research Centre, Singapore has a Covid-19 incidence rate of 3,732 cases per 100,000 people.

Meanwhile, Malaysia has a Covid-19 incidence rate of 7,744 cases per 100,000 people.

This article was first published in The Straits TimesPermission required for reproduction.