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Singapore, Malaysia agree to work towards fully resuming air, land travel for vaccinated people: Ong Ye Kung

Singapore, Malaysia agree to work towards fully resuming air, land travel for vaccinated people: Ong Ye Kung

A bus carrying passengers crosses the Causeway linking Singapore and Malaysia on Nov 29, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Vincent Thian)

SINGAPORE: Singapore and Malaysia have agreed to start working towards resuming full air and land travel for vaccinated people, said Singapore Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Wednesday (Mar 23).

Mr Ong is in Kuala Lumpur for a working visit at the invitation of his Malaysian counterpart Khairy Jamaluddin.

"We had a fruitful and frank discussion. We agreed that Singapore and Malaysia enjoy excellent and longstanding bilateral relations, our peoples have many linkages and ties, but they were all disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic," said Mr Ong in a Facebook post.

"We also agreed that the COVID-19 situation has stabilised and is improving in both countries, and we should now work towards the full resumption of air and land travel for vaccinated persons."

Mr Ong added that a full resumption of air and land travel for vaccinated people would help rebuild people-to-people connections that were disrupted by COVID-19.

Singapore first launched land and air vaccinated travel lanes (VTLs) with Malaysia in November last year, after nearly two years of being shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before border restrictions were implemented in March 2020, around 300,000 Malaysians would commute across the border daily for work.

Under the land VTL, travellers are able to commute between Singapore and Johor Bahru by taking designated bus services across the Causeway.

Under the air VTL, there are designated flights between Changi Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Penang

After their meeting on Wednesday, Mr Khairy tweeted: "Malaysia & Singapore reconnecting & Reopening Safely.

"We agreed the situation has stabilised & we can work immediately towards the full resumption of air & land travel for fully vaccinated persons."

Malaysia is fully reopening its borders on Apr 1 as it begins to transition to a COVID-19 endemic phase.

In response to queries by CNA on the announcement earlier this month, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said that the details on further easing land border restrictions were being worked out.

"I can share that we will be looking at cars, motorcycles and additional buses, including private coaches that may be engaged by companies for their workers to go to-and-fro," said Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong earlier this month.

"We are looking at various aspects and this also involves significant adjustment and fine-tuning of the operations on the ground."

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Wednesday that Singapore's COVID-19 situation has been improving, with the Omicron wave subsiding. He will address the nation on Thursday on the country's next steps.

Singapore reported 8,940 new COVID-19 infections as of noon on Wednesday, taking its total caseload since the start of the pandemic to 1,044,661.

Malaysia reported 21,483 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, taking its national total to 4,032,435.

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Source: CNA/aj(gs)