Singapore and Malaysia on Monday reopened their land border after a year and eight months since it had been closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic that started early last year.
For crossing the reopened border, travelers need to be fully vaccinated and they also must test negative for the novel coronavirus two days before departure, the two countries said.
The restart of the cross-border transfer comes, however, amid growing concerns over the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which was first reported to the World Health Organization by South Africa last week.
The 1.05 kilometer Causeway linking Singapore with Malaysia's southernmost state of Johor reopened for the first time since March last year, enabling thousands of Malaysian workers and students stranded in Singapore to return home if they are fully vaccinated, without being subjected to quarantine.
The two countries on Monday also started non-quarantine air travel for those who are vaccinated, in a bid to normalize economic activities between them.
Before the pandemic, more than 300,000 Malaysians traveled across the Causeway every day to work in the city-state, making it one of the busiest land borders in the world.
The travelers crossing the border are limited to citizens or permanent residents of Singapore and Malaysia and holders of long-term passes, such as work permits or student passes, of the country they are visiting.
One of the first travelers who took a specially designated bus back to Malaysia on Monday morning was Eunice Teoh, a 28-year-old Malaysian who works in the financial industry in Singapore.
She used to cross the border every weekend to go home, but said she had been unable to do so since March last year.
"I am so happy that I finally get a chance to meet my family back in Malaysia," she said, but added that she felt a bit nervous about how long it takes for the administrative process under the vaccinated travel lane.
Teoh also expressed concern about the new Omicron strain, saying she was worried that "this new variant might cause Singapore and Malaysia to lock down again."