UK & US move to Cat II, VTL with South Korea, and more

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From October 13th, Singapore’s VTLs will be expanded to nine additional countries / regions, which include the USA, Canada and South Korea as well as six European nations.

Effective October 13, 2021 (Wednesday), the United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK) will be placed in Category II of Singapore’s travel classification, as announced by Minister of Transportation S. Iswaran. This would mean that travelers:

  • Perform the COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test within 48 hours prior to departure in an internationally accredited or recognized laboratory / clinic / medical facility;
  • On arrival, take a COVID-19 PCR test;
  • Deliver a seven-day stay-home notice (SHN) and
  • Take a COVID-19 PCR test on day 7 of SHN.

Previously, since October 6, both countries were subject to Category III, in which travelers were subjected to more stringent test rounds. Other countries / regions such as Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain remain under Category II. Travelers can visit this website here for more information on the respective categories.

To explain this decision, Minister Iswaran said: “The MOH (the Ministry of Health) has created a risk-based categorization of countries / regions with accompanying border measures. It is based on a public health assessment of a country / region’s COVID-19 situation. including their infection rate and vaccination coverage. This is the starting point on which we will evaluate further steps towards the reopening. We are reviewing this framework regularly, as the COVID-19 situation here and abroad continues to develop. “

Vaccinated travel routes expanded; total of 10 countries / regions for travel

“On September 8 of this year, we launched our first Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs) with Germany and Brunei, which enabled fully vaccinated travelers from these two countries to enter Singapore without quarantine requirements,” said the minister in the same announcement.

He added that by October 8, more than 3,100 travelers from Germany and Brunei had entered Singapore via VTL, and all travelers have followed the testing regime, including the requirement to be tested on the third and seventh day after arrival. This resulted in two imported cases.

“Both were discovered at the point of arrival by their PCR test and isolated before interacting with the general public,” repeated Minister Iswaran. Previously, Singapore had restricted its limits to fully vaccinated travelers from “very low risk” Category I countries / regions such as mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.

With this in mind, Minister Iswaran announced that VTLs will be extended to “further countries / regions of Category II” with effect from October 13th. This would mean that VTLs apply to:

  • Six other European countries (besides Germany): Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Great Britain and
  • Two North American countries: Canada and the USA.

“All eight countries are already open to travelers from Singapore. The VTLs will therefore restore quarantine-free round-trip traffic between Singapore and you, “said the minister. The application for VTLs will open on October 12th and eligible travelers will be able to enter Singapore from October 19th.

VTL with the Republic of South Korea

In addition to these eight countries, Singapore has also set up a VTL with the Republic of South Korea (ROK), which will start on November 15, 2021. Minister Iswaran announced this on October 8, 2021 (Friday).

“We will open applications for the VTL at the ROK on November 8th. Approved travelers from the ROK can enter Singapore from November 15th. Likewise, approved VTL travelers from Singapore can enter the ROK from November 15th”, declared the minister.

“This is an important agreement. Especially since it is the first such travel arrangement between two major air traffic hubs in Asia. We hope that it will pave the way for more countries in our part of the world to safely reopen their borders to one another. “

VTL protocols: what’s the process like?

To ensure that VTLs can run smoothly, Minister Iswaran reminded VTL travelers of three important protocols.

For starters, travelers need to present “Verifiable and authenticated digital vaccination certificate” enter the respective countries.

“The European and Asian VTL countries I have listed all issue national digital vaccination certificates,” said the minister. “For Canada and the US, we will initially accept digital vaccination certificates issued in smart health card format on the CommonTrust Network. This will allow our border agencies to read and verify their digital vaccination certificates.”

Vaccination certificates issued in a VTL country for travel within the scope of the VTL are also accepted. This means that a traveler who may have been vaccinated in France can travel to Singapore as part of the VTL Germany.

The next one is Travel history. With the expansion of the VTLs to countries / regions with a similar risk profile, Minister Iswaran said that travelers with a 14-day travel history are allowed to enter one of the VTL countries and / or Singapore. VTL travelers must have been in the country of departure and / or Singapore in the 14 days prior to departure to Singapore.

The third is that Test regime, where VTL travelers have to pass two tests: a negative PCR test result 48 hours before departure and a PCR test on arrival. Previously, travelers had to undergo four tests (two PCR tests on the third and seventh day after arrival, one PCR test before departure, and one PCR test on arrival).

Minister Iswaran concluded that while these border measures are “still a long way” from pre-COVID times, they are a significant step in reopening Singapore’s borders and are critical to restoring and rebuilding its status as an international air hub with global connectivity.

“We want to restore safe round-trip travel without quarantine with more countries / regions around the world and are having several conversations to that end,” he added.

VTL protocols: who is authorized?

For VTL travelers entering Singapore from October 18, 2021, 11:59 p.m.: Travelers must be fully vaccinated and have a valid vaccination certificate issued in a VTL country / region or Singapore, regardless of which VTL country / region they are leaving from.

For Singapore Citizens (SCs) and Permanent Residents (PRs): SC / PRs returning to Singapore via the VTL-Do not must apply for a vaccinated passport (VTP) if they meet the VTL travel requirements listed here.

For short-term visitors and holders of a long-term pass: Fully vaccinated travelers who are short-term visitors (including business and business travelers) or holders of long-term passes (i.e. long-term visitor pass, student pass, work pass or family pass) traveling to Singapore from one of the VTL countries / regions must apply for a VHP if they intend to to enter Singapore with the VTL.

ALSO READ: Entry into Singapore: From November 1st, 2021, WP holders and relatives must be fully vaccinated prior to arrival

Image / Facebook of Minister S. Iswaran

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