SINGAPORE: Singapore and South Korea have agreed to launch vaccinated travel lanes (VTL) starting from Nov 15, the Ministry of Transport (MOT) announced on Friday (Oct 8).
Under the VTLs, fully vaccinated travellers will be able to travel between Changi Airport and Incheon International Airport, and be subjected to COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, in lieu of serving quarantine or a stay-home notice.
There will be no restrictions on the purpose of travel or requirements for a controlled itinerary or sponsorship, said the ministry.
To support the VTLs, Singapore and South Korea have also reached an agreement on the mutual recognition of COVID-19 vaccination certificates, which will take effect from Nov 15.
This will allow fully vaccinated travellers with proof of vaccination issued in either Singapore or South Korea to enjoy vaccination-differentiated safe management measures in both countries.
Under the VTLs, travellers must meet the eligibility criteria and adhere to the prevailing border control measures and public health requirements for travel into the respective countries. More details of the VTLs will be announced in due course.
The agreement was marked by a video conference on Friday between Minister for Transport S Iswaran and the Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport of South Korea, Noh Hyeong Ouk.
"Singapore and the Republic of Korea enjoy excellent bilateral relations, with strong people-to-people ties. I am pleased that both countries have agreed to jointly launch Vaccinated Travel Lanes that will re-open general travel between our two countries, which has been disrupted for the past 20 months," said Mr Iswaran.
He added that both countries have made "excellent progress" in vaccinating their populations, with the VTLs reflecting the trust in each other's ability to manage the COVID-19 situation.
"This is another milestone as we re-open Singapore’s borders, and resume air travel in a careful and calibrated manner,” Mr Iswaran said.
"The jointly launched VTLs will be the first of its kind between two major aviation hubs in Asia and build on these longstanding relations to safely revive cross-border air travel and people-to-people flows," said MOT.
"Before COVID-19, Singapore and the Republic of Korea were among each other’s top travel destinations, with a total of 64 weekly passenger services connecting the two countries and carrying 1.6 million passengers annually."
The current VTLs with Germany or Brunei were launched on Sep 8. It allows fully vaccinated travellers from Germany or Brunei to enter Singapore without serving a stay-home notice. Instead, they take multiple COVID-19 PCR tests.
They would also need to have stayed in Brunei, Germany and/or Singapore in the last 14 consecutive days prior to their departure for Singapore.
On Thursday, Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong announced that Singapore is working on establishing a VTL with the United States before the end of the year.
Mr Gan noted that as a hub for business and travel, it is important that Singapore remains connected to the rest of the world despite the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that the country is continuing to facilitate the arrival and return of work pass holders from the US.