Fully vaccinated Singapore residents can travel to Germany and back without having to serve stay-home notice (SHN) from Sept 8.
They will instead have to undergo four Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, including one to be taken before the flight.
The development comes after Singapore on Thursday (Aug 19) announced a new scheme in which it will unilaterally open its borders to vaccinated travellers from selected countries, starting with Germany and Brunei.
While Brunei is still closed to leisure travel, Germany has already unilaterally opened its borders to Singapore. This means that those travelling on designated flights from Singapore will be able to fly to Germany and return without having to be quarantined.
They will instead be subject to several Covid-19 tests and a short period of self-isolation, replacing quarantine requirements.
Travellers to and from most other destinations have to be quarantined for up to 14 days.
The Republic will also unilaterally lift restrictions for inbound travellers from Macau and Hong Kong.
This means that short-term visitors from these two cities, regardless of vaccination status, can enter Singapore without serving stay-home notice from Aug 26. But they will have to be tested for Covid-19, and have insurance.
The travel advisory for Singapore residents has been updated accordingly to allow for travel to these destinations, although travellers will have to check the entry requirements imposed by these countries.
The moves come as vaccination rates continue to inch upwards, with 77 per cent of the population fully vaccinated against Covid-19 as at Wednesday.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said the new arrangement to allow for fully vaccinated travellers comes under a scheme called Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL).
In lieu of quarantine, travellers under the scheme must go through multiple Covid-19 PCR tests.
They must take a pre-departure test within 48 hours of the scheduled departure flight and an on-arrival test at Changi Airport. They must also take post-arrival tests on day three and day seven of their stay at one of the designated clinics in Singapore.
CAAS said an individual is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after he or she has received the full regimen of the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty or Moderna vaccine, or other vaccines in the World Health Organisation’s Emergency Use Listing. They must have been fully vaccinated in their country of departure or Singapore.
Travellers must have remained in their country of departure and/or Singapore in the last 21 consecutive days prior to their departure.
Those coming into Singapore must travel on non-stop designated flights. These flights will only serve VTL travellers.
There will be no restrictions on the purpose of travel under the VTL arrangement and no requirement for a controlled itinerary or sponsor, in contrast to current bilateral travel arrangements that Singapore has.
Short-term visitors and long-term pass holders will need to apply for a vaccinated travel pass to travel to Singapore under the new scheme.
Short-term visitors must also buy travel insurance, with a minimum coverage of $30,000 for Covid-19-related medical treatment and hospitalisation costs, before travelling to Singapore.
Applications open from Sept 1 for entry into Singapore on or after Sept 8.
CAAS said fully vaccinated Singapore citizens and permanent residents do not need to apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass to enter Singapore under the new scheme.
“For those who are vaccinated in Singapore, they can show their vaccination status on the HealthHub app to the airline at check-in before departure for Singapore,” said CAAS.
Meanwhile, those who received their jabs overseas must present proof of their vaccination to the airline at check-in and to the local immigration authorities on arrival at Changi Airport.
The VTL arrangement will come into effect for Singapore citizens and permanent residents who enter Singapore on or after Sept 8.
CAAS added: “Travellers under the VTL will have to comply strictly with the conditions of travel.
“Those who fail to complete the required PCR tests may be served with an SHN to be quarantined in a dedicated facility.”
Failure to complete the PCR tests is also a chargeable offence under the Infectious Diseases Act.
Separately, CAAS said that travellers with short-term travel history to Hong Kong or Macau in the last 21 consecutive days prior to their departure for Singapore can apply for an Air Travel Pass with immediate effect. This will be for entry into Singapore on or after Aug 26.
They will undergo a Covid-19 PCR test upon arrival at the airport and be allowed to go about their activities if their PCR test result is negative.
For Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders who have spent the last 21 consecutive days in Hong Kong or Macau, the relaxed measures kick in at 11.59pm on Friday.
They will similarly undergo a Covid-19 PCR test upon arrival, and be allowed to go about their activities if they test negative.
More details of the updated border measures can be found at this website.
Transport Minister S. Iswaran said the gradual start to the vaccinated travel lane scheme will enable Singapore to learn from the process before expanding it.
For those concerned about the reopening of borders, he said the safety and well-being of people will remain Singapore’s priority, and that the Government will not throw caution to the wind.
“The longer our borders remain closed, the greater the risk of lasting damage to our livelihoods and our status as an aviation hub,” he added.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.