Posted on: March 27, 2022, 11:26h.
Last updated on: March 27, 2022, 11:26h.
From April 1, Singapore and neighboring Malaysia will reopen their borders to fully vaccinated citizens of the two nations without COVID-19 testing or quarantine requirements.
A gridlocked Woodlands Checkpoint shows vehicles backed up coming from Malaysia via the Johor-Singapore Causeway in March of 2020. Such congestion is set to return to the entry artery come April 1 when Singapore and Malaysia more fully open their borders. (Image: AFP)
In what’s expected to jumpstart short-term travel between the two Southeast Asia neighbors, the news is major for Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa, the two integrated casino resorts in Singapore.
The casino resorts in the island city-state began benefiting from a return of visitors last fall when Singapore debuted its Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs) program. The travel initiative allows fully vaccinated people to come and go into Singapore without quarantine, so long as they present a negative COVID-19 test.
Singapore’s VTL program is available to residents of numerous countries considered to have COVID-19 under control. The list of eligible origin countries includes Malaysia, the US, and the UK, as well as nearby countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
While the VTL program has helped, travel and gaming experts say a more substantial return of visitation will occur with the April 1 doing away of testing mandates for vaxxed visitors from Malaysia.
No April Fools
Singapore is rightfully anticipating an influx of visitors come April 1. Along with the nation doing away with COVID-19 testing for vaccinated Malaysians, the 4,000-person cap of same-day visitors into Singapore will be lifted.
Singapore and Malaysia enjoy deep, warm and multifaceted relations, as well as strong people-to-people ties,” said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last week. He explained that the elimination of testing for Malaysian people is a “significant milestone in our transition towards living with COVID-19.”
Though Singapore is an island, it’s connected to Malaysia via the Johor-Singapore Causeway and Second Link Bridge. Prior to the pandemic, more than 400,000 people traversed the two crossings daily.
Along with increased visitation, the April 1 lifting of pandemic-related border protocols will help return workers to Singapore’s two multibillion-dollar casino resorts. A substantial component of the workforces at Sands and Resorts World live in Malaysia. Those workers have worried about not being able to return home should they catch the coronavirus while on the job in Singapore.
State Urges Calm
After more than two years of limitations, government officials in both Singapore and Malaysia are encouraging people to wait a bit longer before deciding to make a leisure trip to the other nation.
“As there might be a surge in travelers looking to cross via the land borders, travelers should expect some traffic congestion at the checkpoints. Members of the public are advised not to rush to travel if they have no urgent need to do so,” a statement from the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry recommended.
The ministry reasoned that allowing essential travelers to first resume their cross-border travel will allow them “to do so more smoothly as we reopen our borders with Malaysia.”