[COVIDWatch]: Are VTL travellers required to wear PPE on flights?

By October 19, 2021 October 20th, 2021 COVID-19, Health, Transport

[Editorial update: 20 October 2021, 5:20pm] We have updated the link which provides information regarding the VTL and edited its definition for the sake of clarity.

We came across this post on ex-presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian’s Facebook page:

In the post, we see a video of what looks to be individuals at a transit area of an airport waiting for their flight. The individuals are fully decked out in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which is worn to minimise exposure to serious injuries or illnesses.

Along with the video is a caption by Tan, who states that the video was shared with him by a friend who said: “Enjoy your VTL flight”. Tan then mentions that he had questioned the authenticity of the claim, asking his friend if this practice was “true or not”.

For context, VTL refers to the Vaccinated Travel Lane, in which vaccinated individuals departing for Singapore can enjoy quarantine-free measures upon return. Below are the countries that currently fall under the VTL scheme:

We are unable to find any relevant results when we did a reverse image search on Google Images or Tineye, but were immediately reminded of another fact-check we did in June last year. Then, a video of a large group of passengers fully decked out in PPE waiting at the transit area at Changi Airport was shared. Along with the video was the caption: “Looks like this is going to be the new way to travel at changi airport”.

When we reached out to Changi Airport Group (CAG) for clarification, they replied saying that “passengers are not expected to wear PPEs when travelling from Changi Airport”, and we rated the claim as false but also gave the poster the benefit of the doubt, stating that the claim could just be a case of hyperbole.

Could this, again, be a case of unintentional misinformation?

First off, there is no indication on the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore’s (ICA) website which indicates that travellers need to be fully decked out in PPE at the airport and while taking flights. Travellers to Singapore are only told to wear masks in order to adhere to prevailing public health measures in Singapore, “which include the requirements on wearing of masks and safe distancing, and any other safe management measures”.

A check on CAG’s FAQ page also indicates that all passengers should wear a mask when they board flights bound for Singapore and when they are at Changi Airport:

However, there is no mention of the need to wear any other PPE beyond a mask.

A check on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website also states that it is mandatory to wear a mask when travelling by air. However, once again, there is no mention of any other PPE beyond masks.

Therefore, the insinuation that VTL travellers are required to wear PPE is false.

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