I have good news and bad news.
The good news is that the Singapore-Malaysia border is reopening.
The bad news is that only travel for official, business, or work purposes is allowed at the moment.
Reader: Why do you always dangle happiness in front of us before snatching it away?
That’s not me, dear reader. That’s life.
Everything About the SG-MY Border Opening Whereby SHN is 7 Days Instead of 14 Days
Singapore and Malaysia have agreed to open applications for cross-border travel from 10 Aug, according to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore (ICA) website.
There are now two arrangements under which travellers of both countries are allowed to travel:
- The Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA)
- The Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL)
Both these arrangements require travellers to undergo a Covid-19 test and serve a 7-day Stay-Home notice (SHN).
So, what are the details of each arrangement?
The Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA)
Under the PCA, Singapore and Malaysia residents who hold long-term immigration passes for business and work purposes in the other country will be allowed to enter that country for work.
So, if you’re a Singapore resident who’s a long-term pass holder for business or work, you’ll be permitted to submit an application to travel to Malaysia from 10 Aug.
This also means that unlike the rest of us, you’ll be able to eat some tasty Malaysian fare.
If you are crossing the border, however, you’ll have to remain in your destination country for 90 days before returning home.
Travellers will have to enter either country via the two land checkpoints – at Woodlands or Tuas.
After clearing immigration, you will not be allowed to take public trains or buses. Instead the permissible modes of transport are:
- personal vehicle
- private buses that only ferry Malaysian passengers who are serving SHN
- taxis and private-hire cars directly from the checkpoint to their SHN accommodation
The good news is that when you arrive, you’ll only have to serve an SHN of at least seven days, instead of the 14-day SHN for other travellers.
This SHN must be served in hotels, serviced apartments, or single-occupancy residences, according to ICA.
Travellers under the PCA will also have to undergo a Covid-19 swab test.
Once the employee has served their SHN and tested negative for the coronavirus, they can commence work.
The cost of the SHN and Covid-19 test will be borne by your employer, who must like you a lot.
The Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL)
The RGL sounds like a magical new travel arrangement where residents of both sides can gleefully skip over the border any time they like, but, unfortunately, it’s only for essential business and official travel.
Unfortunately, buying a banana cake from Hiap Joo Bakery doesn’t come under this category.
Unlike the PCA, travellers won’t have to spend an eternity in their destination country, as this arrangement is for shorter-term travel of up to 14 days.
You’ll have to apply for a SafeTravel Pass, without which you’ll be denied entry in your destination country.
According to CNA, this pass must be sponsored by a Singapore-based company or a government agency.
You will also be required to take two Covid-19 tests. The first must be within 72 hours from departure. A certificate of having tested negative from an accredited laboratory must be presented upon arrival.
And after proving you have tested negative, you’ll have to take another test in your destination country, and you must stay in your declared accommodation until the results are out.
If you’re declared Covid-19-free after jumping through these thousand hoops, you can finally continue on your pre-declared controlled itinerary.
Still, the question on everyone’s mind is when will we be able to travel for official eating and shopping purposes?
We’re Not Yet Ready For Daily Commuting: Vivian Balakrishnan
Thanks for the short and painful answer, Dr Balakrishnan.
The Foreign Affairs Minister said the authorities need to “gain greater confidence that the control of the pandemic is well-executed in both places” before daily commuting can resume.
This is because there are “quite a few more operational details” that still need to be worked out, like the availability of mass-scale testing in both countries.
“You must bear in mind that even with a daily commuting model, there’ll be a need for regular comprehensive testing on both sides,” said Dr Balakrishnan.
Dr Balakrishnan said he’s working on allowing people to travel across the border for compassionate reasons, such as those who want to visit their loved ones who are sick or to attend funerals.
Yes, even those who want to visit a sick relative abroad can’t do so at the moment, because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The situation in both countries seems to be improving, however. Singapore recorded just 1 community case yesterday, along with 5 imported cases.
And Malaysia hasn’t recorded more than 39 new infections in a single day since 16 June, so maybe we’ll be able to commute like we used to soon.