TOMORROW, the overland Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) between Malaysia and Singapore will open.
This will allow people from both countries to travel between Malaysia and Singapore via special “safe travel lanes” on land and by air.
Through VTL-Land, fully vaccinated travellers can commute on buses between the Larkin Sentral Bus Terminal in Malaysia and the Queen Street Terminal in Singapore. Those who opt for VTL-Air can travel by flights between the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Changi Airport.
They will only be subjected to Covid-19 tests instead of serving quarantine or a stay-at-home notice.
The long-awaited launch of the VTL is timely as it will finally allow workers from both sides of the border to resume their worklife after a long hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This can enhance bilateral and economic relations between both countries.
Economic sectors especially those relying heavily on the travel industry will benefit, including the aviation industry that has been badly affected by the pandemic.
Apart from workers, the VTL will also provide an opportunity for Malaysians and Singaporeans on both sides of the Causeway, who have been separated from their families due to the pandemic, to be reunited with their loved ones.
Air and bus tickets were immediately snapped up as people from both countries are eager to cross the Malaysia-Singapore border, which has been closed since March 18, 2020.
The VTL marks the beginning of some measure of normalisation as more than 95% of the adult population in Malaysia and Singapore are already fully vaccinated.
Malaysia is slowly opening up its border, and is working with other Asean countries like Indonesia to establish the VTL to be on the path to socioeconomic recovery. But Putrajaya is doing it cautiously.
For example, it has issued a travel ban on seven African countries following the discovery of the new B.1.1.529 Covid-19 variant, also known as Omicron, detected in South Africa, which the World Health Organisation has designated as a “variant of concern”.
Malaysians are banned from visiting South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
Foreigners with a travel history to the seven countries within the last 14 days are also not allowed to enter Malaysia.
Malaysians and permanent residents returning to Malaysia after visits to these destinations are permitted to enter but must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
This is a reminder to us that even though our lives are slowly returning to normal, we must remain vigilant.
We can now travel, but we still need to continue abiding by the SOP such as wearing a mask in public areas and practising physical distancing.
Travel safely and travel responsibly. The fight against Covid-19 is far from over.