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Singapore freezes new ticket sales for VTL flights and buses from Dec 23 to Jan 20 amid Omicron concerns

Singapore freezes new ticket sales for VTL flights and buses from Dec 23 to Jan 20 amid Omicron concerns

Travellers wait in line at the vaccinated travel lane bus counters at Larkin Station in Johor Bahru on Dec 6, 2021. (Photo: Low Zoey)

SINGAPORE: Singapore will freeze all new ticket sales for vaccinated travel lane (VTL) flights and buses between Dec 23 and Jan 20 next year amid a "rapid spread" of Omicron cases in many countries, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday (Dec 22).

The move will help limit Singapore's exposure to imported Omicron COVID-19 cases, said the ministry.

The freeze does not apply to passengers who already hold a VTL flight or bus ticket and meet all other VTL requirements, meaning they can continue to travel under the quarantine-free travel scheme.

MOH will also temporarily reduce the VTL quotas and ticket sales for travel after Jan 20, 2022. It will continue to monitor developments closely and update this policy as the situation changes.

"We are picking up more Omicron cases because of the rapid spread of the variant across many countries/regions," said MOH.

"With aggressive contact tracing and ringfencing measures, we have, for now, been able to limit onward community transmission. But it is a matter of time before the Omicron variant spreads in our community," it added.

SINGAPORE-MALAYSIA LAND VTL 

In light of the new measures, no new VTL bus tickets will be sold for travel into Singapore or Malaysia between 11.59pm on Dec 22 and 11.59pm on Jan 20, 2022, said the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) in a separate release.

All travellers who already hold a VTL bus ticket can continue to travel under the scheme, and those who are not Singapore Citizens or permanent residents can also continue to apply for their Vaccinated Travel Pass if they have not done so.

Going forward, the capacity and ticket sales for VTL land travel into Singapore or Malaysia from Jan 21 next year will be cut by half - equivalent of 24 one-way bus rides per day.

"We will continue to monitor the situation closely and adjust the VTL (Land) capacity, taking into account the public health situation in both countries and globally," said MTI.

VTL FLIGHTS INTO SINGAPORE FROM JAN 21

For entry into Singapore on designated VTL flights from Jan 21, total ticket sales will also be capped at 50 per cent of the allocated quota, added the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) in a separate release.

It also said that it would implement more measures to enhance the safety of aviation workers, including polymerase chain reaction routine testing and requiring N95 masks and face shields for those working in public areas such as taxi stands.

 

OMICRON CASES IN SINGAPORE

MOH said on Monday that there have been 71 confirmed Omicron cases detected to date in Singapore, with 65 imported and six local.

On Monday, MOH reported 195 new COVID-19 cases, of which 45 were Omicron infections. It also announced a suspected Omicron cluster at Anytime Fitness in Bukit Timah Shopping Centre.

In November, the health ministry announced that anyone suspected or confirmed of being infected with the Omicron variant will not be allowed to undergo home recovery. They will be taken to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases for isolation and management of the disease. 

Identified close contacts will also not be allowed to self-isolate at home, instead being placed on a 10-day quarantine at designated facilities, and PCR tests will be conducted at the start and end of their quarantine.

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Source: CNA/ic(aj)
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