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Written Reply by Minister for Transport S Iswaran to Parliamentary Question on Updates and Plans in Place for Gradual Opening of Borders and Resumption of Travel for Business and Leisure Purposes

14 Sep 2021 In Parliament

Mr Christopher de Souza asked the Minister for Transport 

a.     whether he can provide an update on the resumption of travel for business and leisure purposes; and 

b.     whether quarantines will be necessary. 

Mr Christopher de Souza asked the Minister for Transport in light of the pandemic situation moving into an endemic one, what plans are in place for the gradual opening of borders with other countries. 

Reply by Minister for Transport S Iswaran:

1.     Singapore remains well-connected to the world. At present, Changi Airport operates 602 flights each week to 74 cities. However, travel to/ from Singapore remains weak, in part because of the border protections imposed by many countries, especially quarantine requirements. 

2.     As we move towards becoming a COVID-resilient nation, we will gradually re-open our borders to more places. The pace of this re-opening will depend on factors such as the COVID-19 situation, and vaccination rates in Singapore and the other country/ region. 

3.     There are several travel schemes that allow travellers from specific places to enter Singapore for general travel without Stay Home Notice (SHN). 

4.     First, we have unilaterally opened to travellers from very low risk places, which at present includes Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. 

5.     Second, we are piloting the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) arrangement with Germany and Brunei. There are multiple safeguards, including a robust testing regime comprising four COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests pre-departure, onarrival and post-arrival, as well as strict compliance and monitoring processes to minimise public health risks to the community. Among these places, Germany is also open to vaccinated travellers from Singapore. This means that travellers from Singapore are able to travel to Germany and return to Singapore whether for business or for leisure, without the need to be quarantined. 

6.     If the VTL arrangement works well, we can potentially open up to more places, including those that are open to vaccinated travellers from Singapore. 

7.     Business travellers from specific partners countries can also opt to enter Singapore via Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) arrangements. The RGLs allow short-term essential business and official travel without the need for SHN, but the travellers must be sponsored by a local entity such as a government agency or business, and adhere to a controlled itinerary. Currently, travellers may use the RGLs with Brunei and Mainland China, while the RGLs with the Republic of Korea, Germany, Malaysia, Japan and Indonesia are suspended. 

8.     We also have the Business Travel Pass (BTP) for senior executives based in Singapore with regional or international responsibilities who need to travel regularly for work. Travellers under the BTP scheme are required to abide by a strict controlled itinerary when travelling, undertake testing requirements after returning to Singapore, and comply with other prevailing safe management measures. We are in discussion with a number of countries and regions to explore how we might further reopen our borders, while being mindful of public health considerations. A key element of our commitment to the progressive reopening of our borders is to be nimble in adjusting our measures as and when necessary, to reopen in a safe and sustainable manner.