SINGAPORE: All new ticket sales for vaccinated travel lane (VTL) flights and bus journeys will be frozen from Thursday (Dec 23) until Jan 20 next year, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Wednesday.
This comes amid a "rapid spread" of Omicron COVID-19 cases in many countries, the ministry said.
This is what you need to know about the freeze in new VTL ticket sales.
WHAT CHANGES ARE BEING ANNOUNCED?
Singapore will freeze all new ticket sales for VTL flights and buses between Dec 23 and Jan 20 next year.
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).
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) also said there will be no new ticket sales on designated VTL flights for entry into Singapore from all VTL countries from 11.59pm on Dec 22 to 11.59pm on Jan 20, 2022.
WHO WILL NOT BE AFFECTED?
All travellers who already hold a ticket for a VTL flight or bus journey can continue to travel under the VTL if they meet all other VTL requirements, said MOH.
Those who are not Singaporeans nor permanent residents can also continue to apply for their vaccinated travel pass (VTP).
Singaporeans, permanent residents and children aged 12 and below in the calendar year do not need to apply for a VTP to enter Singapore, said CAAS.
All VTL travellers have to take a pre-departure polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or an antigen rapid test (ART) two days before departure.
On arrival, they will undergo a PCR test when they arrive at Changi Airport, or an ART if they arrive via the Causeway.
Travellers will also have to test themselves daily using ARTs. On days 2, 4, 5 and 6, travellers are required to submit their self-administered ART online using a link that will be sent to them.
On days 3 and 7, tests must be done under supervision at a combined test centre or a quick test centre.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER JAN 20, 2022?
From Jan 21 next year, VTL quotas and ticket sales for travel will be temporarily reduced, said MOH.
From that date, the capacity and ticket sales for VTL land travel will be temporarily reduced by half – the equivalent of 24 bus rides per day one way, said MTI.
MTI added that it will monitor the situation closely and adjust the VTL land capacity, taking into account the public health situation in Singapore and Malaysia, as well as the global situation.
For entry into Singapore on VTL flights, total ticket sales will be capped at 50 per cent of the allocated quota, said CAAS.
WHY ARE THESE CHANGES BEING INTRODUCED?
More cases of the Omicron variant are being picked up in Singapore because of the rapid spread of the variant across many countries or regions, said MOH.
The Health Ministry said on Monday that there have been 71 confirmed Omicron cases detected in Singapore, with 65 imported and six local.
"Our border measures will help to buy us time to study and understand the Omicron variant, and to strengthen our defences, including enhancing our healthcare capacity, and getting more people vaccinated and boosted," MOH said on Wednesday.