Singapore, South Korea agree to reopen travel in November – with a catch

Myeongdong, South Korea. Photo: Cait Ellis
Myeongdong, South Korea. Photo: Cait Ellis

Singaporeans dreaming of a holiday in South Korea will be able to make it a reality next month, with one hitch.

Only travelers with proof of vaccination will be able to travel between the two nations starting Nov. 15 under terms announced today. Through the so-called Vaccinated Travel Lane, travelers must produce legit vaccination certificates from their home nation to fly between Changi and Incheon airports.

“Singapore and the Republic of Korea enjoy excellent bilateral relations, with strong people-to-people ties. I am pleased that both countries have agreed to jointly launch Vaccinated Travel Lanes that will re-open general travel between our two countries, which has been disrupted for the past 20 months,” Transport Minister S Iswaran said in an announcement.

There will be no quarantine, no restrictions on the purpose of travel nor need for a controlled itinerary, the ministry said. But even those going on a shopping run will be subjected to COVID-19 PCR tests.

This is the third bilateral travel arrangement Singapore has made following Germany and Brunei, which began last month. South Korea is a top holiday destination for Singaporeans, with 64 weekly flights carrying 1.6 million passengers annually between the two countries before the pandemic began, according to the Transport Ministry.

Much-ballyhooed plans to open a corridor with Hong Kong languished and were ultimately put on ice.

Similar to Singapore, South Korea is in the throes of its worst outbreak since the pandemic began, with daily infections exceeding 2,000. However, the death rate has been low, averaging about 10 fatalities a day. 

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