Singapore is further loosening its on-arrival requirements for VTL travellers, who since the scheme’s inception have been subject to taking private transport, such as a taxi or private hire car, from Changi Airport to their home or place of accommodation prior to receiving a negative on-arrival test result.
This removed the cheaper option of direct bus and MRT links, which for some travellers were also more convenient too, but presumably was a rule enforced given the perceived risk posed while their COVID-19 status was still ‘unknown’, at the Singapore side at least.
There was a slight concession already
From 15th March 2022 VTL passengers arriving in Singapore have no longer been subject to in-person testing of any kind, instead simply instructed to take a self-swab ART test at their place of accommodation within 24 hours of clearing arrival immigration.
Travellers have still been required to take private transport from the airport, but there was already a nod to those who had moved one step ahead of the game and self-tested before leaving the terminal in the first place!
In other words, if you could find a quiet corner, or head to the restrooms and take your self-administered ART test there, then wait 15 minutes for the result, you could quite legitimately submit a negative swab report via the weblink provided and then hop on the MRT, or take a bus home or to your hotel.
The self-isolation requirement would no longer apply, with immediate effect.
This wasn’t really practical or necessary for most travellers, however, who simply took a taxi or Grab / GoJek back home then took their swab test there.
VTL arrivals can now take public transport
Effective from 23rd March 2022, the ICA has relaxed its requirements for arriving VTL travellers, and for those arriving from Category 1 countries.
You are now permitted to leave Changi Airport via either private or public transportation, however you must still isolate at your place of accommodation until you have obtained a negative ART test result and submitted it.
Apart from VTL arrivals who were willing to swab before leaving the terminal, this option was already available to recently-recovered travellers arriving into Singapore, but now all VTL, Category 1 and recently-recovered travellers are eligible.
Travellers who are returning via the General Lane from Category 3 or 4 countries, or from Category 2 countries on non-VTL flights, will still be required to travel directly to their declared Stay-Home Notice (SHN) accommodation using private transport, taxis (including street-hailed taxis) or private-hire car (GrabSHN, Go-Jek, Ryde, MVL Tada).
How the VTL on-arrival test works
In case you missed the news, Singapore significantly simplified its VTL on-arrival test requirement earlier this month, now allowing all travellers using the quarantine-free scheme (and those arriving from Category 1 countries), to take a self-swab ART test.
This replaced a mandatory visit to a QTC/CTC location in Singapore to have a supervised test conducted within 24 hours of arrival, or an online supervised Tele-ART consultation.
You must complete the post-arrival self-test using either:
- an approved kit authorised for use in Singapore, as outlined here by the Health Sciences Authority, or
- a rapid test kit approved in your origin country, if you are bringing your own kits from overseas.
Remember these kits are not provided to travellers on arrival, they must instead be self procured.
The on-arrival VTL test is only required for travellers aged two or above in the current calendar year (i.e. those born in 2020 or later, for those arriving in 2022).
Unlike in some countries, which use an honour system for post-arrival testing, travellers are required to report their negative test result via sync.gov.sg “before proceeding with their activities in Singapore” (even though taking a bus or train home from the airport is now ok).
- For Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents and Long-Term Pass Holders (LTPHs) with SingPass accounts, that means logging into Sync using your SingPass to submit your results.
- If you’re an LTPH or short-term visitor without a SingPass account, you should log into Sync using your passport number, date of birth and nationality, in order to report your negative result.
No photographic evidence of your test result is required.
If your on-arrival ART test is positive, you must self-isolate for at least 72 hours. You can then end isolation following a negative self-ART test.
The option for VTL travellers and those arriving in Singapore from Category 1 countries to take public transport to their home or hotel after picking up their bags at Changi Airport means more flexibility for many whose trip is well served by bus and train connections.
It can also mean a significant cost saving, with a GrabCar to take you downtown often costing S$25+ during surge pricing periods, compared to just S$2 on the MRT.
This is another welcome step towards pre-COVID travel, with hopefully more good news to come as Singapore progressively relaxes its border measures in the weeks ahead.
The next step will be for Singapore to drop the on-arrival test altogether (we think they’ll keep pre-departure testing for the time being, even under a simplified upcoming post-VTL scheme).
With travellers already free to make their way home or to their hotel by any transport, surely this is the first step towards ditching the post-arrival swab altogether.
(Cover Photo: Chuttersnap)