After rounds of talks between their respective Foreign Ministers, Singapore and Malaysia are finally opening their borders to each other this month in a special ‘travel bubble’ of sorts for their citizens.
Under the agreement made between the neighboring countries, prospective travelers must qualify for one of two travel schemes: either the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) or the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA).
The RGL is designed for business travelers who need to go on essential trips lasting up to 14 days. Regardless of nationality, anyone is allowed to travel under this scheme as long as they’re legal residents of either country.
On the other hand, the PCA is for Malaysians and/or Singaporeans who hold work permits in the other country.
The border officially opens on August 17, 2020. This means those who wish to travel between the two countries should start planning right now.
But there are a few important things to take note of before all that.
Here are 4 things you should know about the opening of the Singapore-Malaysia border crossing:
1. Make sure to plan way, way ahead of your trip.
Residents of Malaysia who wish to cross into Singapore under the PCA scheme must have their employer apply on their behalf. This has to be done at least seven days before the intended crossing date. They’ll also need to cough up US$145 for a mandatory COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) screening.
Then PCA travelers will have to go into self-isolation for at least seven days, after which they’ll get tested for COVID-19. Negative results will allow the traveler to begin working immediately. But if you get a positive diagnosis, you’ll have to undergo medical treatment and bear all the costs.
Travelers under this scheme have to stay in the country for 90 days before they’re allowed to shortly return home, and then come back to Singapore for another 90 days.
For RGL travelers, their sponsor (government agencies or a private company) has to send in an application at least 10 working days before the intended date of travel. Travelers under this scheme can use air travel to move between the two countries.
RGL travelers (in either direction) must have been in their departure country for at least 14 days prior to crossing and must have tested negative for a COVID-19 PCR test three days before the date of travel. Once they reach their destination, they’ll also have to pay for another COVID-19 test.
2. Make full use of your destination’s designated contact tracing app.
Travelers crossing into Singapore from Malaysia under the PCA scheme have to download the TraceTogether coronavirus contact tracing app as well as WhatsApp in order to stay in communication with local authorities.
Similarly, those traveling to Malaysia from Singapore would have to download the MySejahtera contact tracing app and stick to a predetermined itinerary to make it easier for local authorities to keep track of you.
3. Travelers under the PCA scheme in Singapore will not be able to take public transport when in self-isolation for the first seven days.
Instead, you’ll only be allowed to use a private car, company transport, or a special taxi.
4. Always follow the local standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure you don’t get into trouble unnecessarily.
Of course, this means you’ll have to observe proper social distancing measures, good personal hygiene, and most important of all, the use of a face mask when out in public.
Once you mess this up, well, I don’t really know what will happen to you to be honest. You can expect a hefty fine at the very least.
Worse, you could end up contracting COVID-19 if you don’t already have it.
Cover image sourced from The Straits Times.