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Over 5,000 travelled via land VTL between Singapore and Malaysia in first 5 days

More than 5,000 people travelled quarantine-free by land between Singapore and Malaysia via the vaccinated travel lane (VTL) in the first five days after border measures were eased.

Another 2,771 people entered Singapore from Malaysia through air VTL over the same period.

Last Monday (Nov 29), the rules were relaxed for those fully vaccinated - allowing many families to reunite for the first time since borders were shut in March last year.

In the first five days, 5,033 people from both countries took designated bus services across the Causeway, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) told The Straits Times.

For now, only citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders of the country they are entering can take the land VTL.

The total number of people who have made the bus trips is lower than the maximum allowed. The quota is 2,880 people a day, with up to 1,440 vaccinated people in each direction.

As at 3pm last Friday, 4,343 people had left Singapore for Malaysia under the land VTL, said ICA - about 60 per cent of the total number allowed.

Entry into Singapore via the Causeway was far more muted, with only 690 making the trip as at 3pm on Friday. This is about 9.5 per cent of the quota over five days.

Of the 2,771 people who made the trip by air, 1,773 were travel pass holders who are short-term visitors and long-term pass holders. Another 871 were Singapore citizens or permanent residents, and the remaining 127 were children aged 12 and below, said the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore.

For many people, travel via the VTLs marks their first trip home to visit their loved ones after almost 20 months of border restrictions.

Travellers told ST that they hope the emergence of the Omicron variant will not derail quarantine-free travel.

Since the variant emerged, both countries have tightened their Covid-19 testing regimes for travellers.

Singapore permanent resident Tommy Yap, 47, who was on the first VTL flight from Malaysia to visit his family here, said: "I'm sure travel restrictions will come back because of fears of the new variant, but fingers crossed the VTL arrangement will stay."

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