Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lanes: Are We Returning to Normal?

Andrew Hyunseung Kim
2 min readNov 6, 2021
The Netherlands is one of the countries included in the Vaccinated Travel Lane scheme. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

After 21 months of closed borders, Singapore has slowly started to open up and give residents a feel of pre-covid times as residents were introduced to the quarantine free travel otherwise known as Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL). Prior to the establishment of these travel lanes, travelers had to undergo weeks of quarantine in designated hotel rooms where they would spend days in suffocating isolation, but now, the tedious process is eliminated for travel to 10 countries.

On September 8, the first VTLs were opened to Brunei and Germany, whereupon thousands of people rushed to grab hold of plane tickets and packed their bags in hopes of breathing the air of another country. More VTLs are expected to open up to countries such as the US, UK, France, Italy, Canada, the Netherlands, and South Korea.

After almost two years, we can finally meet our long-missed relatives. As for me, I soon will be visiting my grandparents in Korea who I have dearly longed to see. So, the question arises: are we finally returning to normal?

On October 9, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his address urged the nation to keep their head forward and look at the current, not the past. In recalling our previous covid prevention goal, he said that “Our original approach was to do our utmost to prevent Singaporeans from being exposed to Covid-19. We tightened safe management measures as much as necessary, to bring cases down to a very low level. We judged this the best way to minimize serious illness and deaths,” However, Mr. Lee shifted the public attention to realizing that a Zero-Covid strategy is no longer feasible, highlighting that “even if we manage to keep Covid-19 cases down through stringent SMMs, the virus will spread swiftly again as soon as we ease up. This is especially true in Singapore, precisely because of our ‘zero Covid’ strategy.” In bringing the unfeasibility of a Zero-Covid strategy to light, Mr. Lee is fostering acceptance of easing up, both the country and our anxiety, as we can no longer live shackled up in fear.

So we are, as Mr. Lee made clear, attempting to return to normalcy. We will still have to wear our masks, scan our TraceTogether when entering malls, and keep in groups of 2 when dining outside. All of these measures have not changed, and in that sense, many may feel like normalcy is out of view, out of their grasp. However, it is of utmost importance to recognize that steady efforts are being made, and these God-given travel lanes are our hope that we can one day leave the pandemic in the past and call it a memory.

--

--

Andrew Hyunseung Kim

Interests in current events, social issues, research, and economics. Student at Singapore American School