Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan expects an Australia-Singapore travel bubble will open by December, marking the return of quarantine-free travel to one of Australia's most popular business and leisure destinations.
Speaking at a webinar hosted last night by MP for Wentworth Dave Sharma, Tehan said there was a commitment for a bubble with Singapore to be "ready to go by the end of the year."
This is the latest indication of travel confidence for the bustling Asian city-state, and comes as Qantas pencils in December 18 for the first regular Sydney-Singapore flight since March 2020, alongside a restart of flights to London and Los Angeles.
As previously reported, the Australian government plans to begin issuing ‘international Covid-19 vaccination certificates’ from October.
These would not only provide proof of vaccination but also allow mutual recognition of vaccines – considered essential to establishing international travel bubbles – as not all countries have approved or issued the same shots.
For example, while both Australia and Singapore approved vaccines from Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna, Singapore didn't roll out the AstraZeneca shot widely used in Australia, while Australia has not approved the SinoVac/CoronaVac jab issued in Singapore.
Other bubbles underway
As to other travel bubble destinations, which unlike 'low-risk' countries would not require any hotel or home quarantine, Tehan also said there had also been some "very serious discussions with some of the Pacific Island nations."
Fiji is likely to be top of this list, as it's already preparing to welcome back Australians from December.
Tehan also name-checked South Korea, Japan, the UK and USA as keen travel bubble candidates, with New Zealand also prepared to restart the trans-Tasman bubble under its own terms and on its own timeline.
More promisingly, Tehan reaffirmed that Australians would be largely free to fly off to anywhere in the world after the 80% vaccination milestone was reached in November, in accordance with the government's Covid-19 Response Plan.
"The national plan is incredibly important, because once we get to that 80% vaccination rate, and it’s 80% in a particular state and 80% across the nation – so if one state is lagging that does not hold up the national plan – that will allow international outbound travel to resume," he said.
However, only destinations operating under a designated travel bubble arrangement would permit Australians to return without undergoing any form of quarantine.