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Live news: Singapore suspends ticket sales for quarantine-free flights amid Omicron concerns

December 22, 2021

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Singapore will stop selling tickets for quarantine-free international arrivals, its health ministry said, amid rising concern over the discovery of the Omicron variant in the country.

The health ministry said that from December 23 to January 20 it would freeze all new ticket sales for flights and buses under its vaccinated travel lane scheme, which was launched in October after 21 months of closed borders, and allowed incoming travellers from selected countries to skip quarantine on arrival.

The city-state would also temporarily reduce the number of tickets sold under the scheme after January 20, the ministry said.

Singapore’s action follows similar moves elsewhere in Asia, where countries are reintroducing travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the new variant. It marks a departure from the brief period of opening up in the region, when countries successfully contained outbreaks of the Delta variant.

On Tuesday, Thailand suspended quarantine-free travel for international visitors, while Japan said it would tighten its border controls, introducing a two-week quarantine for returnees who have come into close contact with someone infected with Covid-19 and preventing citizens and residents from quarantining at home.

“We are picking up more Omicron cases because of the rapid spread of the variant across many countries/regions . . . it is a matter of time before the Omicron variant spreads in our community,” Singapore’s health ministry said.

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