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Tickets sell out in minutes ahead of Singapore-Malaysia land border opening

The Independent logo The Independent 6 days ago Simon Calder
Busy day: Johor Bahru, the Malaysian border city, before the coronavirus pandemic - Simon Calder © Simon Calder

Busy day: Johor Bahru, the Malaysian border city, before the coronavirus pandemic

- Simon Calder

Tickets for the reopening of one of Asia’s busiest land frontiers have sold out in minutes.

On Monday, Singapore and Malaysia will open the border to up to 1,440 fully vaccinated travellers in each direction on dedicated buses.

One of the bus companies involved, Transtar Travel, is reported to have sold all seats on departures for the first 30 days within 23 minutes.

The other firm, Causeway Link, has received almost 100,000 requests in the first eight hours – far more than the number of seats available,

Only citizens of each country, together with permanent residents and long-term pass holders, will be allowed to cross under the “vaccinated travel lane” (VTL) system.

The Singapore government said: “This is to give priority for those who have been working in either country, to visit their families.”

People hoping to cross from Malaysia to Singapore must have spent the previous two weeks in Malaysia or so-called “category one” nations – which include the UK and Germany.

Travellers must test before travel in each direction, with Malaysia requiring an additional antigen test on arrival.

Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, said: “The causeway was one of the busiest land borders in the world before the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted our cross-border activities.

“The launch of the VTL (Land) is a big step towards reconnecting our people and economies.”

Before the coronavirus pandemic, around 150,000 people travelled in each direction on a typical day across the land links connection Singapore with Malaysia. The reopening will initially permit less than 1 per cent of pre-Covid crossings.

The Singapore government warned: “Travellers who arrive via other means (eg private transport or walking across the causeway, etc.) will be subjected to prevailing border control measures, which include serving a seven-day Stay-Home Notice.”

Travel is currently allowed by air between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

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