S'pore & Australia planning to set up travel bubble in July, says Australian DPM

Under this plan, S'poreans who have been vaccinated will be able to travel to Australia without needing to undergo a two-week quarantine.

Julia Yeo | March 14, 2021, 01:12 PM

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A travel bubble between Singapore and Australia could be set up by July this year, Australian deputy prime minister Michael McCormack confirmed with ABC News on Sunday (Mar. 14).

Plans for Singapore-Australia travel bubble by July

Under this plan, Singaporeans who have been vaccinated will be able to travel to Australia without needing to undergo a two-week quarantine at a hotel, reported The Guardian.

Australians travelling to Singapore will not require permission from their local home affairs authorities as well, if they have been vaccinated.

It could also be possible for people from other countries to enter Australia via Singapore after they have completed their quarantine period in Singapore as well.

Australian trade minister Dan Tehan confirmed with a number of Australian news sources including The Age that he had held discussions with his Singaporean counterpart, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing.

"Singapore [is] very keen to work with Australia on a proof of vaccination certificate and we agreed our officials should work together on this," Tehan said.

He added that he is scheduled to visit Singapore soon, and the travel bubble will be a "key topic of discussion" during the visit.

MFA confirms discussions on possibility of air travel bubble with Australia

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed in a statement shared on Mar. 14 that Singapore is in discussion with Australia on how to cooperate in opening their economies safely.

As both countries have been able to control the pandemic thus far, Singapore and Australia are in discussion on the mutual recognition of vaccination certificates and resumption of travel, with priority for students and business travellers.

An air travel bubble allowing for residents of Singapore and Australia to travel between the two countries without the need for quarantine is also in the talks.

MFA noted that Singapore is not in discussion with Australia on the concept of a quarantine centre or vaccination hub, and Australian nationals can transit via Singapore without quarantining to return home if they travel on approved transit routes and comply with Singapore's public health protocols while in transit.

New Zealand could be involved in potential three-way travel bubble

New Zealand could also be involved in a potential three-way travel bubble, which Australia is hopeful to set up by July or August, before the country opens its borders internationally from October onward, reported Melbourne daily newspaper The Age.

While New Zealanders can currently travel to Australia without undergoing quarantine, New Zealand has yet to reciprocate.

Since late last year, Singapore has lifted border restrictions for visitors from Australia, provided they obtain an Air Travel Pass prior to arrival in Singapore, and test negative upon their arrival.

May be able to open international borders for safe travel by end of this year: PM Lee

In an interview with BBC, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shared his hopes for the doors to international travel to open by the end of this year or next year, if many countries can have a substantial portion of their population vaccinated by this year.

However, he noted that travel will be very different from what it looked like before, with more planning and documentation required for individuals.

PM Lee also mentioned the need for the traveller to prove that they have been vaccinated.

"It will be very surprising if we do not have some mechanism to show that somebody is safe to travel," he said, noting that internationally-recognised vaccination certificates could make a comeback in this climate, which were used back when there were other viral outbreaks such as smallpox and cholera in the past.

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