Singapore ends all tests for vaccinated visitors

Flying to Singapore is finally back to pre-Covid normality.

By David Flynn, April 27 2022
Singapore ends all tests for vaccinated visitors

Flying to Singapore is now back to almost a pre-pandemic travel scenario, with the country having removed all Covid-19 tests for fully-vaccinated visitors as of Tuesday April 26.

The city-state has progressively dropped most restrictions for inoculated travellers, such as on-arrival PCR testing, the Vaccinated Travel Lane system and the associated Vaccinated Travel Pass, with pre-departure testing the last block to fall.

April 26 also saw the lifting of limits on the number of people who can gather in groups, although masks must still be worn indoors.

Other moves include doing away with checking people’s vaccination status at most places using the TraceTogether app, except larger events with more than 500 participants and certain nightlife venues.

Over the past month, Singapore allowed venues such as nightclubs and karaoke establishments to fully reopen and lifted a 10.30pm alcohol sales curfew at bars and restaurants that had been in place since early on in the pandemic.

“With these changes, we can now have a well deserved breather after two very difficult years of fighting the virus,” Finance Minister and recently anointed prime minister-in-waiting Lawrence Wong said at the briefing. “Let’s always remember we are getting closer to the finish line, but the race is not over, and the pandemic is certainly not over.”

Under the new Vaccinated Travel Framework (yes, the Singaporean government loves bestowing official names on things), the island-state shifted its focus to vaccinated travellers regardless of their country of origin, with the exception of what Finance Minister Lawrence Wong has previously described as “a very small group of countries which may have variants of concern – then we will have to restrict travel from that particular group.”

“Instead of having vaccinated travel lanes with selected countries that we think are low risk, we should actually allow (quarantine-free) travel for vaccinated travellers or fully-vaccinated travellers, from all countries,” Health Minister Ong Ye Kung forecast last month.

The news bodes well for Singapore Airlines, whose extensive worldwide network is built around connecting flights at Changi, and it also presages the resumption of Qantas’ flagship Sydney-Singapore-London route, which currently relies on Darwin as a temporary stopover but will return to Singapore from June 19 featuring the Airbus A380 superjumbo.

As previously reported, part of Singapore’s route back to pre-Covid prosperity and tourist appeal will include the return of the Formula 1 GP to the twisty Marina Bay Sands street circuit from September 30 to October 2.

Singapore will be the first major economy in Asia to remove all restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers entering the island city as the government tries to restore the aviation and tourism industries that had been hit by the pandemic.

Air passenger traffic reached 31% of pre-pandemic levels in the week ending April 17, up from 18% a month ago, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore. The government aims to increase passenger traffic at Changi Airport to 50% of the level seen before the pandemic by later this year from 15% at the end of 2021, with almost S$500 million set aside to spur a revival in tourism.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg