Indonesia and Singapore to continue discussions on bilateral vaccinated travel lane

Vaccinated Travel Passes for short-term visitors and long-term pass holders from Indonesia will be open for application from Nov 22. - Reuters

JAKARTA, Nov 16 (The Straits Times/ANN): The foreign ministers of Singapore and Indonesia have agreed to continue discussions on a bilateral vaccinated travel lane (VTL), a day after Singapore announced that travellers from Indonesia could travel quarantine-free to the Republic from Nov 29.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi met her Singaporean counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan in Singapore on Tuesday (Nov 16) to discuss bilateral cooperation, particularly safe travel arrangements including through a VTL, Indonesia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"Both parties agreed to continue discussions on VTL arrangements bilaterally (reciprocally)," it added.

The two ministers had discussed the details of the implementation of the unilateral quarantine-free travel scheme granted by Singapore to travellers from Indonesia on a point-to-point basis, namely from Jakarta to Singapore.

Dr Balakrishnan had told Retno that the scheme was extended to Indonesia based on, among other things, "trust in the system, the continued improvement in the Covid-19 situation in Indonesia and the higher vaccination rate", the statement quoted Retno as saying after the meeting.

He added on Facebook that the two foreign ministers had a good discussion on both countries' next steps to "reopen borders and strengthen relations between Singapore and Indonesia".

Under the VTL, travellers entering Singapore do not have to serve a stay-home notice. Instead, they have to test negative for Covid-19 two days prior to departure for Singapore, as well as upon arrival.

Upon arrival, they will be required to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, and can go about their activities if they test negative.

Since Nov 11, travellers can submit a negative test result from either a PCR swab test or a professionally administered antigen rapid test.

Vaccinated Travel Passes (VTPs) for short-term visitors and long-term pass holders from Indonesia will be open for application on Nov 22.

Indonesia remains closed to general travel from Singapore. Transport Minister S. Iswaran on Monday (Nov 15) said he hopes that Indonesia will soon reopen its borders to travellers from Singapore, noting it has already opened its borders to visitors from 19 countries.

For a start, there will be two daily VTL flights between Singapore and Jakarta, and this will go up to four.

On Tuesday, the two foreign ministers also discussed the creation of a safe travel bubble, particularly from Singapore to the nearby Indonesian tourist island of Bintan by ferry.

They also discussed the plan to organise a leaders' retreat between President Joko Widodo and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, which had previously been reported to take place on Bintan.

The statement said: "The two foreign ministers agreed to prepare concrete and beneficial results of the meeting for the two countries." - The Straits Times/ANN

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