Singapore is easing entry requirements for vaccinated travelers from the United States, starting Oct. 19.
The country’s Ministry of Transport announced plans to expand its vaccinated travel lanes, or VTLs, to eight more countries, allowing them to enter without a quarantine period. The country initially opened travel lanes to two countries, Brunei and Germany, on Sept. 8.
Singapore officials labeled the travel lanes a success after only two of the more than 3,100 travelers who entered Singapore from the two countries brought in COVID-19 cases. Both cases were identified through PCR tests, and the travelers were isolated and had no interaction with the community, according to Transport Minister S. Iswaran.
“We have monitored the VTL scheme closely and are encouraged by the outcomes,” Iswaran said Saturday.
Testing requirements for travelers
Most U.S. citizens are not allowed to travel to Singapore for short-term visits.
Starting Oct. 19, travelers from the U.S. can enter Singapore as long as they show proof of vaccination and test negative through a PCR test twice: once 48 hours before departure and again upon arrival.
Travelers must also show they have only been in a VTL-approved country in the 14-days prior to departure.
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Restoring two-way travel
Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, Canada will also get access to VTLs this October, Iswarni announced Saturday. A joint VTL launch with South Korea, set to begin Nov. 15, was previously announced Friday.
Together, the 11 countries – including the U.S., Brunei and Germany – are among Singapore’s top 20 trading partners and account for about 10% of the country’s pre-pandemic annual passenger arrivals at Changi Airport.
“All 8 countries are already open to travelers from Singapore. So the VTLs will restore two-way quarantine-free travel between Singapore and them,” the transport minister said.
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‘A significant step up’ for reopening Singapore’s borders
Applications for the transport lanes open Tuesday, and travelers can enter the country starting Oct. 19, Iswaran said. No more than 3,000 daily arrivals from the VTL countries will be allowed per day.
“We will monitor the incidence rate, observe the demand, before deciding on any further increases in capacity,” Iswaran said. “While still a far cry from where we were pre-COVID, this is a significant step in the reopening of our borders, and crucial to reclaiming and rebuilding our status as an international aviation hub with global connectivity.”
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The announcement comes as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong lays out an updated plan for a “new normal” in Singapore, pivoting away from a “Zero COVID” goal to “Living with COVID-19” now that more than 85% of its population is fully vaccinated.
“It will take us at least three months, and perhaps as long as six months to get to this new normal,” he said Saturday. “The next few months will be trying. I expect daily cases to continue rising for some weeks. Our healthcare system will still be under pressure. We can slow, but we cannot stop the Delta variant.”
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