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Asia Minute: Singapore tries a 'vaccinated travel lane' for travelers

Virus Outbreak Singapore 092621
Annabelle Liang/AP
Cyclists wearing faces masks pass near the Merlion statue, a popular tourist attraction in Singapore on Sunday, Sept 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Annabelle Liang)

Singapore is moving ahead to welcome tourists from certain countries — including the United States.

Here’s a new travel-related acronym in the age of the pandemic: VTL.

That stands for “Vaccinated Travel Lane” — and it’s all about the way Singapore is slowly loosening restrictions on visitors from overseas.

Last month the country started allowing vaccinated travelers from Germany and Brunei to skip quarantine.

Now the VTL program will expand to include vaccinated travelers from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and five European countries next week — adding South Korea on Nov. 15.

The head of Singapore’s National Association of Travel Agents told the Straits Times that higher prices will be part of this new travel reality.

Anyone who tests positive for the virus will not be able to board a plane to leave until at least two weeks after their first diagnosis — time that may have to be spent in isolation.

Insurance to cover such an eventuality can boost the overall cost of a Singapore trip by nearly a third.

Despite a vaccination rate of more than 80%, new cases of the virus have spiked in Singapore in recent weeks.

Starting tomorrow, the government will tighten some restrictions for those who are not vaccinated — including banning them from shopping malls and coffee shops.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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