SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): People vaccinated against Covid-19 will be able to travel between Singapore and South Korea without quarantine from Nov 15.
The announcement by both countries means that Singapore residents now have a second option for leisure travel without quarantine, in addition to Germany.
The Transport Ministry announced on Friday (Oct 8) that Singapore will open up a new Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) with South Korea to facilitate travel for vaccinated travellers.
The jointly-launched VTLs will be the first of its kind between two major aviation hubs in Asia and build on longstanding relations to safely revive cross-border air travel and people-to-people flows, said the ministry.
Under the VTLs, fully vaccinated travellers will be able to travel between Changi Airport and Incheon International Airport, and do PCR tests, in lieu of serving quarantine or Stay-Home Notice.
There will be no restrictions on the purpose of travel or the need for a controlled itinerary or sponsorship.
Singapore had last month announced the start of the VTL scheme with Brunei and Germany.
Germany had earlier opened its borders to Singapore, but Brunei's borders remain largely closed.
Under the VTL scheme, fully vaccinated travellers can come into Singapore provided they meet several requirements, such as staying in either the country of departure and/or Singapore in the last 14 days prior to departing for Singapore.
They have to fly on designated VTL flights and take up to four Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction swab tests, including one pre-departure test and one on-arrival test.
According to data from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), South Korea was the 9th largest market for Singapore in terms of international visitor arrivals in 2019, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The top three markets were China, Indonesia and India.
South Korea had suspended visa-free entry and visa-waiver programmes for most travellers from 90 countries, including Singapore.
Foreign residents with valid visas are required to serve a 14-day quarantine at their own expense.
Meanwhile, South Koreans are required to serve a 14-day quarantine in their homes after returning from overseas. However, fully vaccinated South Koreans and permanent residents are exempted from this requirement.
More VTLs are expected to be on the way, as Singapore looks to open up its borders and restore the Changi air hub to its former glory.
Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong had said in Washington on Thursday (Oct 7) that Singapore is working on establishing a VTL with the United States and wants to conclude it as soon as possible before the end of the year.
He said this follows successful VTL pilots with Germany and Brunei.