Singapore recently announced it would be opening up to more quarantine-free travel as early as next week. The resulting surge in bookings crashed the website of flag carrier Singapore Airlines. It’s thought many people are looking to leave Singapore for a holiday outside the city. In addition, people around the world are looking to return to the city for business.
Yesterday, Singapore announced it was looking to ease COVID-19 travel restrictions and allow some quarantine-free travel. Fully-vaccinated travelers from the UK, Spain, France, the US, Canada, Denmark, Italy, and the Netherlands will be able to visit Singapore from October 19th without the need to quarantine.
The move comes after a successful Vaccine Travel Lane (VTL) trial with Germany and Brunei over the past month. The new VTLs mean up to 3,000 passengers can enter the city-state in a single day. South Korea will join the VTL list in November.
After the announcement that the city would reopen next week, there was a surge in online bookings. According to Bloomberg, travel agents report five times the number of inquiries for flights, and the Singapore Airlines website temporarily crashed under the weight of demand.
Demand isn’t the only thing to have increased
As well as a surge in flight demand, the Singapore Airlines website shows a jump in prices for tickets on routes to European destinations and routes to the US. Direct flights are showing increased prices for those looking to travel without quarantining. A direct flight to Hong Kong was S$2,364 (US$1,747), while an indirect flight that would require passengers to isolate upon arrival in Singapore is just S$1,519 (US$1,121).
Additionally, Singapore Airlines saw a jump in share price after the announcement. The airline’s shares increased by almost 10% on Monday morning. The share price remains incredibly high as bookings continue to flood in. Since the airline relies on international travel, reopening borders for quarantine-free travel is a considerable boost.
Tight restrictions for unvaccinated
The new VTLs with eight countries will still require vaccinated travelers to provide a negative test to prove they aren’t infected with COID-19 at the time of travel. The new travel lanes aim to get back to a “new normal,” said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. He also confirmed it could take as long as six months for things to settle down.
Despite hopeful signs of reopening, Singapore is cracking down on the unvaccinated. From Wednesday, unvaccinated people will no longer be allowed into shopping malls or permitted to dine in at restaurants. COVID-19 cases remain at an all-time high in the city. As it reopens, another surge is expected, but with an 80% vaccination rate, the city plans to reopen.
What do you think of Singapore’s VTLs? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.