Singapore and Malaysia freeze ticket sales for vaccinated travel amid Omicron fears.

Singapore and Malaysia freeze ticket sales for vaccinated travel amid Omicron fears.

Singapore said on Wednesday that it would halt flight and bus ticket sales for passengers coming from two dozen countries with which it had established vaccinated travel lanes — a setback for a program that the island nation had hoped would rev up its pandemic-battered economy.

It joined other countries in the Asia-Pacific region in suspending quarantine-free entry amid the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The pause will start on Thursday and last until Jan. 20, Singapore’s Civil Aviation Authority said. Travelers who already hold tickets will be exempt from the freeze, but others must follow current border rules, including 14-day quarantines, the agency said. After Jan. 20, the government said, it will cap the number of ticket sales at half of current levels.

Under the program, fully vaccinated travelers from countries including Australia, Britain, India, Malaysia and the United States have been allowed into Singapore via flights or buses and have been required to have regular Covid tests. But Malaysia, too, on Wednesday announced a freeze until Jan. 20 on ticket sales to vaccinated travelers hoping to enter from Singapore.

Singapore was a leader in establishing vaccinated travel lanes to help restart tourism, but the program has had fits and starts. Last year, Singapore’s travel bubble with Hong Kong was halted amid a spike in virus infections.

Thailand suspended a program begun last month to attract tourists when it reinstated its quarantine requirement for foreign visitors, effectively from Wednesday. The government said that for everywhere except the island of Phuket, it would temporarily halt new applications for the so-called sandbox program, which has allowed visitors to move around freely as long as they stayed within the island or region where they had arrived.

Cambodia is still allowing quarantine-free entry for travelers who are fully vaccinated. It also removed a travel ban it had imposed on countries in southern Africa.

In other global news:

  • In Australia, which has recorded more than 500 Omicron cases, Prime Minister Scott Morrison stopped short on Wednesday of mandating mask wearing in indoor spaces, as some medical experts had urged. Instead, he said at a news conference that it was “highly recommended” and “common sense.” Western Australia became the first Australian state to announce that workers in industries with vaccine mandates — including health care, retail and mining — must receive a booster shot to be considered fully vaccinated.