From 11.59pm on March 31, all tourists who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 and children aged 12 and under will be eligible to enter Singapore with just a a pre-departure Covid-19 test. Travelers will no longer be forced to take only specified flights to enter Singapore quarantine-free, nor will they be required to do a Covid-19 antigen rapid test (ART) within 24 hours of arrival, in Singapore’s most recent measure to reopen its borders.

The new border procedures will make travel practically as pleasant as it was before the pandemic. There will also be no daily quotas on arrivals and no need for entry approvals for all vaccinated travellers. The new Vaccinated Travel Scheme will take the place of the existing Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme. The pre-departure test, which is required two days before departure, will remain in place for the time being, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH).

“We will continue to monitor the local and global Covid-19 situations and consider removing the pre-departure test requirement in the coming weeks,” MOH added.

Long-term pass holders who are not completely vaccinated and short-term tourists aged 13 and above are generally not permitted to enter Singapore. However, long-term pass pass holders who are medically unable to receive vaccines, long-term pass holders aged 13 to 17, and long-term pass holders and short-term visitors who have other valid entry approvals will be exempted.

These tourists must have a pre-departure test taken two days before their flight to Singapore, undergo a seven-day stay-home notice (SHN), and a polymerase chain reaction test at the conclusion of their SHN.

Several other changes would take place with the reopening to all vaccinated travellers, according to Transport Minister S. Iswaran, who spoke at a press conference conducted by the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19. In Singapore or elsewhere, air crews can return to their regular duties. They will be tested in the same way that vaccinated travellers would be.

Except for individuals in higher-risk roles, who will need to wear a face shield and gloves, airport personnel merely need to wear surgical masks. They won’t have to take Covid-19 tests on a regular basis anymore. The airport will no longer be divided into zones, allowing all passengers to freely roam about the transit area.

Mr Iswaran warned, however, that if the Covid-19 scenario changes suddenly, Singapore must be ready to immediately re-establish public health regulations.

“This shift to the Vaccinated Travel Framework is a decisive step for Singapore and an important signal to the world – that Singapore has fully reopened its borders, that we are reconnecting with the world, and reclaiming Changi’s status as an international aviation hub,” he added.

In a televised speech on Thursday morning, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the decision to reopen to vaccinated travellers would provide a much-needed boost to industries, notably in the tourism sector, and help Singapore restore its status as a business and aviation hub.

The government has set a goal for this year to restore air travel to 50% of what it was before the Covid-19 outbreak. In February of this year, the overall number of passenger movements via Changi was 13.7% of the level in February 2019 prior to the pandemic.

With immediate effect, the Ministry of Health changed its policy for invoicing travellers infected with Covid-19 for treatment on Thursday. If they tested positive for Covid-19 within 14 days of returning to Singapore, Singapore citizens, permanent residents, and long-term pass holders were obligated to pay for Covid-19 treatment at hospitals and Covid-19 treatment and recovery facilities under the previous system.The new Vaccinated Travel Framework, however, has amended this regulation, according to the Ministry of Health. Medical costs for Covid-19 treatment in hospitals and community treatment facilities will no longer be needed of vaccinated Singapore citizens, permanent residents, and long-term pass holders who are subject to general travel category border checks.

Any future revisions to the billing policy for local community cases, according to the Ministry of Health, will also apply to this category of travellers. According to the billing policy for unvaccinated individuals who contract Covid-19 in the community, travellers who are not fully vaccinated will be responsible for their Covid-19 treatment expenditures.

Lee Seow Hiang, the chief executive of Changi Airport Group, said the airport is now preparing to welcome additional passengers.

“The normalisation of airport protocols will also be welcomed by airport workers, who have been working tirelessly over the past two years to ensure a safe environment for travellers,” he added. “We will continue to ensure that air travel is safe for our passengers, even as we begin to restore Changi’s handling capacity.”

According to Philip Goh, regional vice-president of the International Air Transport Association (Iata) for Asia-Pacific, the reopening will allow airlines to expand their services. He went on to say that removing pre-departure testing will help the aviation industry get back on track in the future.

“We have seen other significant moves in the region to reopen borders recently, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam,” said Mr Goh adding, “This means many key markets in Asia will become more accessible to each other, restoring crucial air connectivity to the rest of the world.”

– India’s new age travel digital media


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