CARI Captures Issue 546: Singapore to reopen borders, retire VTLs on April 1

Singapore to reopen borders, retire VTLs on April 1

(24 March 2022) Singapore will reopen its borders and simplify entry procedures for fully vaccinated travellers starting 1 April 2022, nullifying existing vaccinated travel lane (VTL) arrangements that it has with other countries. Under the new framework, fully vaccinated travellers under the general travel category arriving by air and sea will only have to take a pre-departure test two days before departing for Singapore with no on-arrival test or quarantine period, while unvaccinated travellers under this category will be quarantined for seven days upon arrival. Travellers under the restricted category will still be subjected to these requirements.

Singapore-Malaysia land border to reopen in April

(24 March 2022) Malaysia and Singapore have agreed to fully reopen the land border between the countries in line with both countries’ plans to lift travel restrictions and transition towards living with COVID-19. Both countries will allow all fully vaccinated travellers and non-fully vaccinated children aged 12 and below crossing the causeway to enter the country without having to take pre-departure and on-arrival tests or undergo quarantine. However, those driving vehicles not registered in Singapore will need to apply for a vehicle entry permit and collect their permits in Johor Bahru before heading for the checkpoint.

No more quarantine for air travellers arriving in Indonesia

(23 March 2022) Foreign travellers entering Indonesia by air will no longer need to go through a quarantine period upon arrival, though a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test will still be required. It remains unclear if the new requirements will also apply to those arriving by land and sea, or if a pre-departure test will still be needed. The announcement follows a successful two-week quarantine-free trial in Bali, Batam and Bintan, and ahead of the upcoming Hari Raya festivities. Indonesians who have taken their booster shot will be allowed to participate in Hari Raya trips and gatherings this year.

Vietnam’s vaccine certificates now accepted in 17 countries

(21 March 2022) Vietnam has so far formed agreements with 17 countries to mutually recognise each other’s vaccine passports and allow the holders of such passports to be held to the same medical requirements as vaccinated locals. The 17 countries include the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, India, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, Cambodia and the Philippines. Vietnam also announced a three-year visa waiver for citizens of 13 countries for visits of up to 15 days. The countries are Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the UK, Russia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Belarus.

Thailand scraps pre-travel COVID-19 test to boost tourism
(22 March 2022) Travellers visiting Thailand will no longer have to take a pre-departure test starting 1 April 2022 though they will still be tested on arrival as the government looks to further relax restrictions to revive its tourism industry. Thailand’s tourism ministry says that it aims to remove all restrictions by 1 June 2022 if the situation continues to improve. This would include the removal of existing Test & Go, Sandbox and quarantine programmes. The ministry also hopes to lower entry restrictions on 1 May 2022 if there is no spike in COVID-19 cases after Songkran.

Singapore announces relaxation of COVID-19 measures 
(24 March 2022) Singapore announced a slew of changes to its COVID-19 measures that will come into effect from 29 March 2022. This includes allowing groups of 10 people to gather and dine in up from the current maximum of five, allowing the sales and consumption of alcohol after 10.30 pm, resumption of live performances and large scale social gatherings, as well as increasing the capacity limit for events of over 1,000 and workplaces from 50% to 75%. While mask-wearing outdoors will be optional, masks will still be required indoors and there is still a one-metre distancing measure in settings without masks.

Government bars the use of cryptocurrencies for payment
(23 March 2022) Thailand announced that it will ban the use of cryptocurrencies as a method of payment beginning 1 April 2022 alongside a slew of new restrictions for businesses operating in the digital asset industry. Under the new regulations, businesses operating in the digital asset space must not advertise or suggest that digital assets can be used to pay for goods and services and they must not facilitate the use of digital assets for such purposes. Businesses will be given until the end of April to comply with the new regulations.

RCEP Monitor

RCEP comes into force in Malaysia
(18 March 2022) The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) entered into force in Malaysia on 18 March 2022 and the country is expected to be the largest beneficiary of the trade pact among ASEAN countries in terms of export gains according to the country’s trade ministry as it projects a US$200 million increase in exports under the pact. All ASEAN Member States except Myanmar, Indonesia and the Philippines have ratified the RCEP thus far. Malaysia’s external trade development agency expects the country to benefit from a diversion in trade due to ongoing volatility and geopolitical tensions.

New Zealand to drop COVID-19 restrictions in April
(23 March 2022) New Zealand will relax its pandemic restrictions in early April on the back of high vaccination rates and following the peak of the country’s Omicron wave. Starting 4 April 2022, there will no longer be capacity limits in outdoor settings and the limit for indoor gatherings will be increased from 100 to 200 people. People will not need to use the COVID-19 tracing app or show their vaccine passes when entering premises and venues, and there will no longer be a vaccine mandate for those working in education, police and defence.

Australia bans alumina exports to Russia

(20 March 2022) Australia expanded its sanctions against Russia as it imposed an immediate ban on all exports of alumina and aluminium ores to the country. The move is expected to impact Russia’s ability to produce aluminium — a key export for the country — as it relies on Australia for 20% of its alumina needs. Australia will also donate 70,000 tonnes of thermal coal to Ukraine in addition to other forms of humanitarian and defensive military assistance. Australia has imposed sanctions against 476 Russian individuals and institutions, and approved almost 5,000 humanitarian visas for Ukrainian refugees so far.

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