The reopening of international travel in the aftermath of Covid-19 was never going to be a straightforward affair. Since the end of last year, several countries have ideated and experimented with various concepts to allow the movement of passengers between nations. These include air bubbles, vaccine passports, travel corridors and even a traffic light system. The latest addition to this list is Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL), introduced by Singapore. While still in its early days, experts believe it could become a pro forma for jurisdictions opening up to vaccinated travellers.
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What are Vaccinated Travel Lanes?
VTLs are basically an extension of travel corridors albeit only for travellers who have been fully vaccinated. As of date, Singapore has established VTLs with two jurisdictions — Germany and Brunei Darussalam — allowing fully vaccinated passengers from these two places to arrive in Singapore for any travel purpose without quarantine requirements, which are otherwise mandatory for those flying to Singapore.
How will these VTLs work?
Singapore will designate specific flights with the country on the other side of the lane only for passengers having a Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP) issued by the Singapore government. Fully vaccinated passengers will be able to apply for a VTP from September 1 for travel from September 8 onwards on the designated flights. Singapore citizens and permanent residents do not need to apply for the VTP to travel back home under the VTL.
To apply for a VTP, travellers must be fully vaccinated — an individual will be considered fully vaccinated 14 days after they have received the full regimen of a vaccine authorised by WHO for emergency use. This includes the Serum Institute of India’s Covishield.
Applications for a VTP must be made between seven to 30 calendar days before the intended date of entry into Singapore. Quarantine requirements have been done away with for passengers arriving on VTL flights. However, they must still get an RT-PCR test done 48 hours ahead of the scheduled departure time and prepay for their post-arrival Day 3 and Day 7 Covid-19 PCR tests when applying for the VTP. It is also important to note that travellers to Singapore must have only been to their country or region of departure and/or Singapore in the last 21 consecutive days before departing for Singapore.
Does this mean passengers who are not fully-vaccinated will not be able to travel to Singapore?
Designated flights between Germany and Singapore (by Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines) and Brunei Darussalam (by Royal Brunei Airlines and Singapore Airlines) will only carry passengers with a VTP. However, in addition to these, usual flights from these countries and others under agreements with Singapore will also be allowed to fly. In those flights, passengers without a VTP can travel but they will be subject to stringent quarantine requirements upon arrival in Singapore.
German carrier Lufthansa will start operating its VTL flights between Frankfurt and Singapore from September 16, flying twice a week on Thursdays and Saturdays. Singapore Airlines will operate its VTL flights between Frankfurt and Singapore on September 7 and between Munich and Singapore on September 8.