Singaporeans looking forward to quarantine-free travel
Travellers must take a series of PCR tests in lieu of quarantine
He used to travel at least five times a year but his plans came to a halt when Covid-19 hit.
Now, Mr Sam Wu, who is in his mid-40s, has started to make travel plans again, as he works towards a Christmas holiday in Germany with friends.
The multi-ministry task force tackling the pandemic here announced yesterday a new Vaccinated Travel scheme with Germany and Brunei, which will start from Sept 8. As Germany currently allows unrestricted entry for Singapore residents, fully vaccinated people can travel to Germany and return home without having to serve a stay-home notice.
Mr Wu, a tertiary institution administrator, told The New Paper: "Even though I remain cautious about travelling as it is still a calculated risk, I am excited at the thought of going to Germany in December and enjoying winter there.
"In fact, I have some friends in Germany, and it would be nice to meet up with them."
As part of the new vaccinated travel lane (VTL) arrangement, travellers will go through a series of polymerase chain reaction tests in lieu of quarantine. Under the programme, travellers must take a pre-departure test within 48 hours of the departure flight as well as an on- arrival test at Changi Airport.
They must also take post- arrival tests on the third and seventh day of their stay at a designated clinic in Singapore.
Travellers to and from most other destinations have to be quarantined for up to 14 days.
Mr Wu had previously purchased tickets to see his sister and nieces in Hong Kong last November when the travel bubble was announced. His hopes were dashed as the travel scheme never took off.
He said: "I hope this VTL opens doors for us to visit more countries without having to quarantine. For one, I really do hope to travel to Hong Kong soon to see my family."
Dr Karen Soh, who is also a frequent traveller, said she misses going on holidays with her husband and four children.
The 48-year-old doctor said: "Travelling really breaks the monotony of our routines. We love trying new foods from various countries, and holidays are also great for family bonding."
She added that she is considering travelling to Germany with her family at the end of the year.
"It will be great to see more countries included in VTL arrangements, especially those with controlled infection rates," said Dr Soh.
"I think Singaporeans would be excited to go to places such as Japan and Hong Kong without having to be quarantined."
A spokesman for Singapore Airlines told TNP that it has taken steps to strengthen checks at points of embarkation to ensure its passengers comply with the VTL regulatory requirements.
"This is an important milestone in our recovery from the Covid-19 endemic and helps to establish confidence in the safe resumption of international air travel with the necessary protocols in place," added the spokesman.
A spokesman for Lufthansa Group, which offers flights to and from Singapore and Germany, said: "(The VTL) makes Germany an attractive travel destination for anyone based in Singapore and may affect demand. Overall, it is safe to say: People want to travel. Whenever possible, where travel restrictions are relaxed or lifted altogether, they (will) book and fly."