The Singapore-Malaysia land border could open by the end of November in a long-awaited move that will reunite families and loved ones separated due to the pandemic.
The Covid-19 multi-ministry task force said at a press conference on Saturday (Nov 20) that Singapore and Malaysia are in talks to open up a vaccinated travel lane (VTL) at the Causeway, prioritizing travel for families that have been separated since the start of the pandemic.
“We have been working very thoroughly with multiple agencies and I am optimistic that we will be able to open up this vaccinated travel lane for land around the end of the month,” Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling the pandemic, said.
The discussions to open a land VTL follows earlier announcements that a VTL between Changi Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport will open from Nov 29.
While media reports from Malaysia had cited Nov 29 as the date that land borders would reopen, Mr Gan did not confirm it.
He said details will be announced some time next week so that people will have time to make the necessary arrangements for travel.
He added that the land VTL will likely kick off with a limited number of travelers each day, with a quota in place.
More than 100,000 Malaysians are estimated to have been stuck in Singapore since borders were closed in the early months of the pandemic last year, and there are also Singaporeans working in Malaysia who have not been able to come home.
Noting this, Mr Gan said: “So I think the first phase of the VTL for land is likely to focus on this group of people who have a need to meet their family to be reunited and subsequently, we can think about expanding the scope to allow more people to travel.”
He added that it is unlikely the VTL will restore travel to the level seen in pre-pandemic days when hundreds of thousands of people used to cross the border each day.
The task force was also asked about Singapore’s approach towards border measures.
To this, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who is also a co-chair of the task force, said Singapore looks at a broad range of indicators every fortnight in deciding the risk status of countries and adjusts its border measures accordingly.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES