Coronavirus: Testing

S'pore, South Korea set up fast lane for essential travel

Singapore and South Korea have concluded a fast-lane arrangement which will allow for essential business and official travel between the two countries from tomorrow.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said yesterday that the arrangement will help restore connectivity and support economic recovery. It added that the necessary public health safeguards will be in place.

Eligible travellers will have to abide by the mutually agreed terms and prevailing public health measures in both countries.

These conditions include pre-departure and post-arrival testing, as well as the need to adhere to a controlled itinerary for the first 14 days after their arrival.

More details about the fast-lane arrangement and application process will be published on the safetravel.ica.gov.sg website by tomorrow.

MFA said that Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha spoke on the phone yesterday, with both welcoming the conclusion of the fast-lane talks.

It said the ministers also reaffirmed the importance of bilateral cooperation to jointly overcome both countries' common challenges amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

This the second fast lane Singapore has announced in as many days, after a pact with Brunei was announced on Tuesday.

The Republic has also agreed on fast-lane arrangements with China and Malaysia since it started to gradually reopen its borders in June.

Separately, it has unilaterally opened its borders to short-term visitors, including tourists, from Brunei and New Zealand. The application window to come into Singapore under this scheme opened on Tuesday.

These measures are part of efforts to gradually revive the local aviation sector amid the pandemic.

MFA said that Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha spoke on the phone yesterday, with both welcoming the conclusion of the fast-lane talks.

It said the ministers also reaffirmed the importance of bilateral cooperation to jointly overcome both countries' common challenges amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Changi Airport registered just 86,000 passengers passing through in July, a 98.5 per cent drop compared with the same period last year.

Airlines and airports worldwide are continuing to struggle as well.

Industry group International Air Transport Association said on Tuesday that international traffic in July was 91.9 per cent below the levels last year. It added that there is deep industry frustration with government policies, such as travel restrictions, which are continuing to "annihilate" travel demand.

Its director-general and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac said: "Too many governments are fighting a global pandemic in isolation with a view that closing borders is the only solution.

"It's time for governments to work together to implement measures that will enable economic and social life to resume, while controlling the spread of the virus."