Singapore — Crowds rushed to the Singapore Airlines (SIA) service centre in Orchard Road after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s announcement that travel will soon be allowed to nine more countries, including the US and the UK.
PM Lee announced on Saturday (Oct 9) that under the Vaccinated Travel Lane scheme, fully vaccinated travellers may soon be able to visit several countries with fewer swab tests and without needing to undergo quarantine.
The list of new countries under the scheme is as follows: Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, Britain and the US.
News of the easing of travel curbs sparked travel-fever among many Singaporeans, especially those who are used to regular overseas trips and have not been able to leave since the pandemic began early last year.
On Saturday afternoon, the number of inquiries caused SIA’s website to experience a momentary outage.
Many of those who were unable to access the site went old school and visited the SIA service centre in Orchard Road. By Saturday night, The Straits Times reported that there were between 40 and 50 people inside and several others waiting outside, with customers expecting to wait around three hours to be attended to.
SIA told ST on Saturday, “Singapore Airlines has seen very high demand today for our Vaccinated Travel Lane flights.
While we had anticipated this and added more resources at our customer servicing points, our agents may take longer than usual to respond to queries or attend to customers due to the high demand.”
In response to the report, while many netizens expressed gladness over the possibility of travelling again, others cautioned that it may be too soon to go overseas.
“Honestly, I won’t take the risk looking at current situation,” wrote one netizen.
More than one person wondered why people are in such a hurry.
Another commenter urged people to “please be more responsible.”
Some netizens reminded travellers to determine whether their insurance would cover Covid-19.
However, other commenters said they understood why people are longing to travel and wished them a good trip.
One netizen even thoughtfully acknowledged that some people who rushed to buy tickets have been separated from their loved ones for almost two years and are longing to be reunited with them.