Ticket sales for Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) program have been put on hold for all flights until January 21st. Ticket sales for flights on and after this date have also been reduced. The move was made as a response to the fast-spreading Omicron variant, which has seen at least 65 cases documented in Singapore as of December 22nd.
VTLs allowed non-essential travel from select countries for vaccinated passengers. Photo: Getty Images
The official word
According to Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), there will no longer be new ticket sales for designated VTL flights for entry into Singapore until January 21st. To be specific, the suspension covers bookings for flights until January 20th at 23:59. This policy came into effect on December 22nd at 23:59 Singapore Time.
The government organization adds that VTL ticket sales will be “temporarily reduced” after the blanket suspension is lifted. While the duration has not been specified, it would be reasonable to believe that restrictions will be tightened or lifted depending on the epidemiological situation worsening or improving.
Travelers who are already in possession of a ticket for a VTL flight will not be affected and can continue to enter Singapore under the VTL (Air) as planned, provided original conditions are met.
“Applications for the Vaccinated Travel Pass (Air) will remain open,” the ICA adds.
Although vaccinated, travelers from VTL flights must also undergo pre-flight PCR and arrival PCR testing and several rounds of rapid testing during their stay. Photo: Getty Images
What is Singapore’s VTL?
Made available from October, the Vaccinated Travel Lane (Air) [VTL (Air)] allows quarantine-free travel to Singapore via air to a select list of countries. As the name suggests, VTL travelers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 using authorized vaccines. This must take place at least two weeks before arrival in Singapore.
At the time of this article’s publication, VTL countries are as follows:
Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Canada, Denmark, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Maldives, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States
In some ways, the VTL and VTL countries have formed something of a “green list.” However, the requirements for VTL services are far more detailed, as passengers traveling on such flights must apply and be approved in advance of their travels. Indeed, applications must be submitted at least three days before the date of travel.
Additionally, monitoring is a major part of the VTL program and includes the following tests:
Pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test or professionally administered Antigen Rapid Test (ART) taken no more than two days before departure for Singapore.On-arrival PCR test at Singapore Changi AirportPost-arrival supervised antigen rapid tests (ARTs) on the 3rd and 7th days.Post-arrival self-administered ARTs on the 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th days.
A small sampling of countries and possible departure points for VTL flights. Photo: GCMap.com
Why are bookings suspended?
A series of measures, including VTL booking suspension, have been implemented in hopes of slowing down the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Documented as being much more contagious than previous variants, countries around the world have been reimposing restrictions to protect their respective health care systems from being overwhelmed- even if preliminary studies are indicating that this variant is resulting in milder symptoms.
Singapore’s border agency offers the following statement:
“Our border measures will help to buy us time to study and understand the Omicron variant and to strengthen our defences, including enhancing our healthcare capacity, and getting more people vaccinated and boosted.”
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