VTL travellers from Singapore exempted from South Korea's new quarantine rules

SINGAPORE – People will still be able to travel without quarantine between Singapore and South Korea under the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme, in spite of new border restrictions kicking in from Friday (Dec 3).

The Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Singapore said on Thursday that the VTL arrangement between the two countries will proceed without change at the moment.

Singapore and South Korea had on Nov 15 jointly launched VTLs in both directions to let vaccinated travellers fly between the two countries without having to quarantine.

The status of the VTLs were thrown into doubt on Wednesday evening, after the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said it will halt quarantine exemptions for fully vaccinated inbound travellers. It announced plans to impose a 10-day quarantine on all inbound travellers from Friday (Dec 3).

The measure came after South Korea confirmed its first five cases of the Omicron variant late on Wednesday, including a fully-vaccinated couple who arrived last week from Nigeria, followed by two of their family members and a friend.

The move had caused confusion on the status of the VTLs between Singapore and South Korea.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said in a statement on Thursday that it is seeking more information on South Korea’s new border restrictions.

CAAS director of air transport Daniel Ng said: “We are clarifying whether these requirements apply to the Vaccinated Travel Lane arrangement for entry into the Republic of Korea. We are awaiting more information from the RoK authorities.”

In the meantime, eligible travellers from South Korea can continue to enter Singapore under the VTL scheme, subject to Covid-19 tests, he said.

In responses to queries, South Korea flag carrier Korean Air said: “According to the (South Korea) Ministry of Transport, VTL flights into Korea will not be affected by the new 10-day quarantine policy on arriving visitors.

“VTL flights into Singapore are also not affected.”

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The airline is one of the four operators of designated VTL flights between Singapore and South Korea. The other airlines are Singapore Airlines, Scoot and Asiana Airlines.

In a Facebook post on Thursday morning, SIA said it is clarifying the revised entry requirements with the South Korean authorities, as well as its potential impact, if any on the VTLs.

“There is currently no change to the VTL services to Korea. We will provide an update to customers once we have more information from the Korean authorities,” said SIA.

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