Singapore and Indonesia announced in a joint statement on Monday (12 October) that the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) to allow cross-border travel for essential business and official purposes between both countries has been launched.
In the statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of both countries, the application for the RGL will be opened on 26 October, and travel will commence soon after.
Both Singapore citizens and residents as well as Indonesia citizens are eligible to apply for the RGL, which also referred to by Indonesia as the Travel Corridor Arrangement (TCA).
The statement revealed that Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi had spoken over the telephone, reaffirming “the excellent and longstanding relations between Singapore and Indonesia”.
In the telephone conversation, both Ministers “recalled their discussion in August 2020 on the importance of strengthening mutually beneficial cooperation in overcoming common challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic”, including the resumption of essential travel while safeguarding public health and safety in both countries.
As expected, travellers will have to abide by the COVID-19 prevention and public health measures mutually agreed by both countries, including pre-departure and post-arrival polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab tests from mutually recognised health institutions.
Further details about the RGL – including the procedural requirements, health protocols, and applications process – will be announced in due course.
Upon learning about RGL between both countries, netizens have voiced their disagreement over the move. Penning their thoughts in Facebook page of Channel News Asia, many said that re-opening the borders with Indonesia will result in higher number of COVID-19 cases in Singapore since Indonesia has a high number of unknown cases.
They even called it a “big mistake” as Indonesia has “the worst spread of COVID-19” cases in Southeast Asia, and this will lead to a new wave of cases in Singapore.
One user said that if the COVID-19 cases in Singapore spikes after re-opening the borders with Indonesia, the Republic will suffer as it cannot afford another round “lockdown”.
“All families will suffer. Businesses will suffer. Our movements continue to be restricted. Singapore will suffer,” the online user said.
However, others noted that re-opening of the borders would not be so bad as the visitors who are travelling for essential business purposes will get tested before they leave their home country, and get tested again once they reach Singapore before being allowed to enter the country.
If that’s not all, they also have to be home quarantined once they return to their home country until their new test results are out, indicating that the safety measures taken is sufficient to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.