Due to the new Omicron COVID-19 variant, Singapore has decided to tighten border measures for those arriving under the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme.
While quarantine-free travel will still be possible, there will be additional testing involved on arrival.
Day 3 and 7 testing reintroduced
|VTL Testing Regime|
|Current||From 3 Dec 2021|
|Pre-departure test||ART/PCR within 2 days||ART/PCR within 2 days|
Currently, air travellers arriving under the VTL scheme must undergo a pre-departure ART/PCR within 2 days of their flight to Singapore. On arrival, they must do a further PCR test and isolate until the results are out.
From 3 December 2021, air travellers arriving on the VTL scheme will need to undergo supervised, self-administered ART swabs at a Quick Test Centre on Days 3 and 7 of their arrival (the day you enter Singapore is Day 1).
These must be done by 2130 hours (Singapore time) on the relevant days, and instructions will be emailed to travellers on arrival in Singapore.
There is no need to isolate while awaiting the results of the Day 3 and 7 ART swabs (which will anyways be rather fast, given they’re the ART variety). These tests will cost S$15 each, and can be done at any of the venues below.
|Quick Test Centres|
Children aged 2 and below in this calendar year are not required to undergo Day 3 and Day 7 ARTs. Children aged 3 to 12 must be accompanied by a caregiver, aged 21 years old and above. The caregiver may be required to help administer the test if the child is unable to do so.
We’re not quite going back to the days of the early VTL though- when the inaugural VTLs launched with Brunei and Germany, travellers had to undergo Day 3 and 7 PCR tests, which cost S$94 each.
For avoidance of doubt, the routine for pre-departure testing before coming to Singapore remains the same. Both ART/PCR swabs are acceptable, and both must be done within 2 days of departure time to Singapore.
Also, there is no requirement that you stay in Singapore for at least seven days between your trips. You are excused from testing if the scheduled time of departure of your flight is before 2130 hours on the day of test.
New VTLs will continue
To date, Singapore has nine VTL arrangements announced but yet to be implemented.
On 29 November, Singapore decided to postpone VTLs with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE until further notice.
The Straits Times earlier reported that Singapore intended to freeze all upcoming VTLs, but has edited its original article with a correction.
An earlier version of this story said six upcoming VTLs will be postponed. This is inaccurate. There are no changes to plans for the six new VTLs, but there will be no additional VTLs announced for the moment.
This means the VTL pipeline now stands as follows:
|🌎 VTL Agreements|
|From 14 Dec 2021|
|From 16 Dec 2021|
|*Brunei and Indonesia do not currently allow Singapore residents to enter without quarantine|
PDT required for Category I countries
Currently, travellers arriving in Singapore from Category I countries/regions (i.e. Hong Kong, Macau, China and Taiwan) need not take a pre-departure test. Instead, they will take a PCR test on arrival at Changi and isolate until the results are out
From 3 December 2021, they will need to produce a pre-departure ART/PCR test taken within 2 days of departure.
On-arrival testing reinstated
Currently, travellers arriving in Singapore from Category II, III and IV countries need not do a PCR test on arrival; instead, they do it at the end of their SHN period.
From 3 December 2021, they will undergo a PCR test on arrival as well, adding S$125 to the total cost of testing.
While the cost of the additional Day 3 and 7 tests isn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things, there’s bound to be some inconvenience involved in getting them done.
Still, it’s nowhere as bad as the other scenarios that were bouncing around in my head, such as a suspension of all VTLs or an upgrading of the pre-departure test to the more expensive PCR variety.
I’m actually writing this article from SQ222 on the way back to Singapore, and count myself quite fortunate to be returning at this time. December looks set to be a hairy period for international travel, so it might not be the worst idea to hunker down.