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Singapore aims to reopen borders with Malaysia despite Omicron

·2-min read
People board a bus in Singapore on November 29, 2021, under the vaccinated travel lane (VTL) for border-crossing passengers to Malaysia's southern state of Johor. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Singapore and Malaysia aim to expand their land and air vaccinated travel lanes to include general travellers from mid-December and are in discussion to pilot a similar arrangement for cruise ships. (PHOTO: ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

By Philip J. Heijmans

(Bloomberg) — Singapore’s goal is to keep reopening more borders with Malaysia, despite governments around the world imposing a flurry of travel restrictions to curb the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

The two neighbouring countries aim to expand their land and air vaccinated travel lanes to include general travellers from mid-December and are in discussion to pilot a similar arrangement for cruise ships, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. He was speaking with his Malaysia counterpart Ismail Sabri Yaakob at a press briefing on Monday to mark the reopening of borders after more than a year of being shut.

“Of course, all this is Covid-19 permitting because we’re all watching anxiously to see what the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 does and how it will behave,” Lee said. “But even if Omicron disrupts these plans, our goal will still be to have more open borders between Singapore and Malaysia, and after some time, we will be able to make further progress.”

Ismail said his discussions with Lee touched on expanding air travel between Singapore and other destinations in Malaysia like Penang, Langkawi, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu, beyond the capital city. The leaders decided that officials in both countries should start to draw up measures for this purpose, he said. 

Separately, Malaysia has suggested reviving talks for a high speed rail project that was scrapped last year, Lee said at the media conference. “Singapore is open to fresh proposals on the high speed rail. The two ministries will discuss the matter so we can study them and start from a clean slate,” Lee said.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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