Indonesia allows quarantine-free travel from Singapore to Bintan and Batam beginning Monday: Minister
JAKARTA: Indonesia has opened a quarantine-free travel corridor that allows people from Singapore to travel to Batam and Bintan beginning Monday (Jan 24), said Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno.
The travel scheme is for people to visit Nongsa in Batam and Lagoi in Bintan, and they are not allowed to leave for other places, he said in a virtual press conference.
The minister also said that travellers must test negative for the coronavirus 72 hours prior to departure and again upon arrival at Batam’s Nongsapura ferry terminal or Bintan’s Bandar Bentan Telani terminal.
“When they arrive at the point of entry, they will go directly to their place of activity such as the hotel, and after the (COVID-19 test) result is out in 50 minutes, the tourists can immediately start their activities,” Mr Uno said.
He highlighted that the travel corridor is meant for people from Singapore to visit Nongsa and Lagoi and not for Indonesians to visit Singapore.
“If people in Batam want to go to Singapore, they must follow Singapore regulations,” he said.
In November last year, Singapore announced that it would start a unilateral vaccinated travel lane (VTL) with Indonesia on Nov 29 for fully-vaccinated individuals travelling from Jakarta to the country via Changi airport.
At that time, Singapore’s Transport Minister S Iswaran said that the VTL with Indonesia would be unilateral for the moment since the latter had remained closed to general travel.
“We hope that Indonesia will likewise soon reopen its borders to travellers from Singapore,” he had said.
On Nov 16, a statement by the Indonesian foreign ministry wrote that both foreign ministers “agreed to continue discussions on VTL arrangements bilaterally (reciprocally)”.
For a start, Bandar Bentan Telani in Bintan is ready to welcome about 50 to 100 tourists from Singapore daily, and the number will gradually be increased to 500 people in eight trips, Mr Uno said on Monday.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the ferry terminal could accommodate 2,400 travellers daily through 12 trips, he said.
Tourists from Singapore are important in the efforts to revive Indonesia’s economy and tourism, especially that of the Riau Islands province, the minister said.
TRAVEL INSURANCE AND TRACING PROGRAMMES
Earlier on Monday, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto said in a virtual press conference that the Indonesian government decided to establish the travel bubble since the COVID-19 cases in Batam and Bintan are now under control.
He stated that travellers must be vaccinated twice, have a negative PCR test taken within three days prior to travel, travel insurance worth S$30,000 and use the Indonesian COVID-19 tracing programmes PeduliLindungi and Blue Pass.
At the same press conference, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan said that the travel bubble will be evaluated every week.
“If we think it is good, we continue. If not, we stop," he said.
The Singapore-Indonesia Leaders’ Retreat will be held in Bintan on Tuesday after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.