KUALA LUMPUR: Singapore and Malaysia are in talks about allowing more people to travel via vaccinated travel lanes (VTL), but a decision on the matter will depend on the COVID-19 situation in both countries, said Singapore’s High Commissioner to Malaysia Vanu Gopala Menon on Friday (Jan 28).
Mr Menon said he was “hopeful” the quota would be increased in the coming months.
Singapore and Malaysia launched air and land VTLs in November. The air VTL is between Changi Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport, with the land VTL via the Causeway by bus.
In December, both countries froze all new ticket sales for VTL flights and buses between Dec 23 and Jan 20 amid fears of the spread of the Omicron variant.
Ticket sales from Jan 21 on air and land VTLs have been capped at 50 per cent of the allocated quota.
“We have now reduced the quota by 50 per cent, so the next step is perhaps to see whether we can increase the numbers. I would think that is a logical thing to do,” Mr Menon said, speaking after a meeting with Bernama’s chairperson.
“Either that or go back to 100 per cent like it was before, but whether we can do that, I don’t know. We’ll have to see how things evolve. All of us are hopeful that we can get there.”
On Jan 7, Malaysia’s Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong said further assessments on VTL capacity would be made “in the next few weeks”.
On Jan 21, Singapore announced that the testing regime for VTL travellers entering Singapore by air and land would be simplified. From 11.59pm on Jan 23, VTL travellers will only be required to do unsupervised self-administered antigen rapid tests (ART) if they need to leave their accommodation from Days 2 to 7 of their arrival.
Mr Menon noted that demand for travel has risen ahead of Chinese New Year.
“I’ve been told that most of the flights especially for the month of February have all been booked. Maybe because Chinese people are coming back and forth to Singapore and Malaysia (for Chinese New Year).
“But people are generally happy to have the opportunity and the option to travel without quarantine,” he said.
On the COVID-19 situation in Singapore, Mr Menon said he was confident and that Singaporeans were observing the rules to curb the spread of the virus.
“There will be some restrictions, but I think we’ll have to accept that some of these restrictions will remain in place for some time to come, like wearing a mask,” he said.