SINGAPORE: The freezing of new ticket sales for vaccinated travel lane (VTL) flights and buses is an “essential and prudent measure” to protect Singapore’s public health, said Transport Minister S Iswaran on Wednesday (Dec 22).
In a Facebook post, Mr Iswaran said that he understands that people might be “disappointed” by the changes to the scheme, which currently allows fully vaccinated travellers from 24 countries to enter Singapore without having to serve quarantine.
“As part of our careful and calibrated approach to border reopening, it is crucial that we tighten our safeguards when warranted by the public health risk assessment to protect the health and safety of our fellow Singaporeans, frontline aviation workers and travellers,” he said.
Mr Iswaran’s post comes after the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Wednesday that Singapore will pause ticket sales for VTL flights and buses between Dec 23 and Jan 20 next year.
He said that the Government had been “closely watching” the global development of the Omicron COVID-19 situation and decided to temporarily pause all new ticket sales, given the “rise” in Omicron cases.
Singapore has reported 71 confirmed Omicron cases, comprising 65 imported and six local infections.
The freeze, however, does not apply to passengers who already hold a VTL flight or bus ticket and meet all other requirements under the programme.
“I would like to assure those who already hold VTL flight tickets and meet all requirements under the VTLs: You can still continue to travel to Singapore without quarantine under the VTL scheme,” Mr Iswaran said in his Facebook post.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore also said on Wednesday that it will enhance safety measures for airport workers.
Airport workers who interact with passengers, including those working in public areas such as taxi stands, must don enhanced personal protective equipment, including N95 masks and face shields, it added. All frontline workers will also be subjected to a stricter testing regime.
“We are adopting these measures to do our best to protect our frontline aviation workers,” Mr Iswaran said.
He added that Singapore must focus on ramping up its vaccination and booster programme as protection against the new variant.
“For those who are travelling, I wish you a safe journey. Let us all stay vigilant and stay safe,” said Mr Iswaran.