PM: Australia-Singapore ‘travel bubble’ by November

Get ready for the return of quarantine-free travel to one of Australia's most popular business and leisure destinations.

By David Flynn, October 22 2021
PM: Australia-Singapore ‘travel bubble’ by November

UPDATE: Australia and Singapore will begin quarantine-free travel from Monday November 8, after the two counties signed an agreement to add Australia to the 'Vaccinated Travel Lane' program which now extends to over a dozen nations. Read our latest story for all the details.

PREVIOUS [October 22, 2021] Quarantine-free travel between Australia and Singapore is on the cards for November, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying the two countries could sign an agreement as early as next week.

Singapore has already established what it calls ‘vaccinated travel lanes’ with several countries including South Korea, Germany, Canada, Denmark, France and Italy.

Under the Australia-Singapore proposal, fully-vaccinated residents of each country visit the other without having to enter quarantine, although Morrison said the initial focus would be on students and business travellers, with tourists likely to follow in December.

Sydney and Melbourne, both of which will scrap quarantine requirements from November 1, would be the first ports of call for passengers on direct flights operated by Qantas and Singapore Airlines.

‘Final stage discussions’

Speaking at a press conference held inside a hangar at Qantas’ Sydney Airport jet base, Morrison said his government was in the “final stages of concluding an arrangement with the Singapore government”. 

“We anticipate that being able to be achieved within the next week or so, as we would open up to more visa class holders coming out of Singapore, we will see that occur.”

While not nominating a firm start date, Morrison said "we would expect to see that align pretty much with the timetable that Qantas has announced today regarding when they’ll have flights going to Singapore."

That timetable has seen Qantas bring forward its Sydney-Singapore flights to November 23, four weeks earlier than the previous December 18 schedule.

Far from coincidentally, Singapore Airlines also this morning announced its Airbus A380 would return to Sydney with daily flights from December 1, alongside a daily Boeing 777-300ER, in what the carrier’s Regional Vice President Louis Arul described as “another exciting step on the road to recovery.” 

Earlier this month Singapore’s Transport Minister S. Iswaran indicated Australia and New Zealand were next on that list, saying “Australia is a very important partner country for us, and there’s a great deal of connectivity between Australia and Singapore, and through Singapore to other parts of the world as well.”

This would be better news if Singapore hadn't just extended their restrictions for another month, and show no sign of the political will to 'live with covid'  - so if you want to eat with more than one other person or have a beer after 10.30pm best look elsewhere.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 711

To me it seems like the federal government is just trying to catch up to what NSW and Vic have already stated about all inbound travellers, not sure where this leave QLD in this crucial point in time. If I was the premier of QLD I would just copy NSW and Vic and flood Qld with Covid jabs the word on the street is that QLD Health has notified private hospitals to be prepared for take over by QLD Health under emergency conditions.

Every comments section on this website has to end up being about QLD for some reason.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 711

I actually thought it was about the East Coast,  NSW Vic and Qld?

15 Sep 2021

Total posts 8

Hey, not even going there with that Q word.

I am just getting excited that the world is opening up to us all again, bit by bit and every piece of news like this is GOOD NEWS!

Let's not spoil it all by getting too bogged down with political side of things. We will work it out as we go.

By 'the Q word' do you mean 'quarantine'? That's what is being dropped.

24 Jun 2020

Total posts 22

Too many rules and hurdles to get over at present, so I think I will sit on the sidelines and look to next year for any meaningful travel which is meant to be fun rather than eventful and tedious

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 509

To be honest I still don’t know why Australia is not amongst the earlier list of countries for VTL (mind you the requirement includes SIA flights designated for VTL, so there may not be enough volume of Australians being able to travel to SG until ScoMo announced the borders open for outward bound Aussies) since ultimately the key requirements is actually based on individual pax fulfilling the fully vaccinated and 72hr-PCR-neg criteria and NSW/VIC daily case number never reached current SG daily numbers atm (SG’s numbers is high enough to be now on USA’s high risk list)

I agree that the current eating out arrangement in SG (2 person per table regardless of household or not) meant most family with children or groups of friends will find that a great disincentive; although it does appear the next review is due at or before nov 21.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Jun 2018

Total posts 3

They have just announced further crackdowns here in Singapore. I suspect this is just wishful thinking on Australia's part. We have been in semi-lockdown since March last year. 300,000 workers a day used to cross the border from Johor Malaysia for work, but have not been able to do that since March last year, those who couldn't back in time have been trapped here ever since. An awful situation for them on both sides. 

11 Sep 2018

Total posts 10

If the NSW and Victoria's hospitals think they're under the pump now just wait till they see the cases go through the roof... I'm not sure Perrotet, like many of his colleagues are very far forward thinkers. Just short term gain for long term pain.

Not jumping the gun on this is pivotal, with vaccines needing to get to 90% before you start getting meaningful results.

WA still has the right idea.

Preparing myself for the "but we can't stay locked down forever" flak which i get, but at least wait until you have some sort of herd/vaccine immunity. 80% doesn't cut it.

90% like Singapore? Feel free to live in your own bubble but don't subject the rest of us to it. 

But then again I wouldn't want to open up if I were in WA either knowing how underfunded the hospitals are even with the flu and covid nonexistent. Perhaps spend some time lobbying for some funding there before worrying about the borders on the east coast. 

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1021

There are 2000 local cases a day in Melbourne and 300 per day in Sydney now.  Opening the border is not going to introduce the virus to Melbourne or Sydney, it is well and truly already here.  Border closures were to keep the virus out in a Covid-Zero world; once it is here, international border quarantine is pointless and a waste of police resources.

This could possibly change is a new variant were to emerge but to stay locked down just in case that happens is a bit "hiding under the doona". 

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 711

Boooooo

15 Oct 2020

Total posts 4

If you are that concerned, you can always subject yourself to quarantine, but don’t subject your politics to everyone else who doesn’t subscribe to your views

CLK
CLK

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 4

We are flying SIA business on Nov 4 @ 9am Syd-SG due to no Qantas flights available.

How do I find out if the SIA lounge is open?

"How do I find out if the SIA lounge is open?" Try contacting 'SIA', aka Singapore Airlines, to ask them, as it's their lounge and they set the opening conditions. But I would be surprised if it will be open as even as there will be minimal passenger flow between Sydney and Singapore until this travel bubble or VTL is in place.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 509

You may have seen my comments up in the thread but just a gentle reminder that only designated VTL SIA flights (not all SIA are VTL flights, and the SG government have not included any other airlines yet) can use VTL privileges (and they haven’t even placed AU in the VTL program yet- although the daily rag in SG seemed to suggest the announcement is imminent next week)

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 509

Hi, just to clarify, there are other inbound flight by certain National airlines (not SIA) can be also designated as VTL flights, but so far QF is not one of them, probably because QF doesn’t do international flights to yet. 

But the main msg is that the actual flight had to be designated as VTL flight

09 Jul 2016

Total posts 29

Currently Sydney lounge is closed but I'm sure there will be an announcement in the next couple of weeks

21 Sep 2011

Total posts 69

The Singapore VTL currently does not allow unvaccinated children. That's a bummer as most other markets that are reopening allow unvaccinated children travelling with vaccinated adults. 

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

20 Apr 2015

Total posts 29

Children under 12 are now exempt under the VTL scheme. I've using the VTL to the USA and Canada with my two sons aged 10 and 7.

21 Sep 2011

Total posts 69

Fantastic news and makes sense. Must have missed it. 

Singapore has updated its VTL rules to allow unvaccinated children.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Jun 2014

Total posts 20

Fingers crossed that Singapore will add both AUS and UAE onto the VTL program soon. Have a trip to UK next year visting family there and then to Singapore (family again) for a week on the way home. LHR to SIN is via DXB with EK as no QF at the time we need to go.

I suppose Singapore will call this a VTL as that seems to be its language for a travel bubble, at least the new type of bubble which is only for vaccinated passengers and also requires PCR tests.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 509

SG do have much penchant for abbreviations so not surprised they had one for the bubble 

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 187

Great news. To anyone who still counts cases and thinks it a bad idea, you will very quickly be left behind. The world is opening up and despite your hope that it will slam shut as cases rise, you will be quite upset to see this will not happen.

I am in Singapore for work in 10 days and my colleagues over there now say everything is quite good. No panic, everyone is focused on getting on with life. They do not dwell on cases any more as it is irrelevant.

15 Oct 2020

Total posts 4

Exactly, hospitalisation & deaths should be the key metric. PCR has never been validated for asymptomatic people anyway.

01 Oct 2021

Total posts 12

SQ should bring back the A380 to Melbourne aswell just like Sydney from December 1st.

If they think there is demand, I'm sure they will, but I think Sydney has generally been Australia's 'hero' destination for SQ in terms of the A380.

25 Jun 2021

Total posts 19

Do we see QLD coming on line with this before 2022? If not how would it work if domestic flights were on and a AU-Sing travel bubble? Could QLD still say you have to Quarantine?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Apr 2017

Total posts 136

Who knows. Flights are for sale. I’ve booked Singapore, Fiji and US for December, with the intention of using one of them. One good thing that COVID has bought out, airlines are much more flexible with last minute change policies now.

With that Q word (Qld) I would ban people from there coming  into NSW and VIC due to the low vaccination rate, and I do the same for WA as well. Why should we risk ourselves.

China Airlines - Dynasty Flyer

22 Sep 2012

Total posts 78

So does this mean also that when arriving back in Australia we wont even be required to do 1 week home quarantine? This is my thought (and question) as 1 week stuck at home is not that bad (definitely compared to a 2 week hotel stay) but it still means needing to consider not being able to work for an extra week if you can't work from home.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 361

That's correct, in fact as of November 1 you can fly overseas from Sydney or Melbourne and not have to quarantine at all on your return, as long as you're fully vaccinated of course. The trick is that some countries including Singapore only allow travellers from certain countries, so this VTL or 'bubble' is intended to let Australians fly to Singapore and back.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

05 Nov 2014

Total posts 60

Why would Australia enter a Travel Bubble with the advanced country with the second worst infection rate (60 per 100,000 per day - only the UK is even worse) and the second worst hospitalisation and death rate (0.20 per 100,000 per day, joint with UK - only the USA is worse).

A travel bubble is supposed to be a safe arrangement allowing for relaxed restrictions. So why would you enter into one with the second worst Covid-performing nation in the advanced world?

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 187

Thankfully your thinking is in the minority!

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

05 Nov 2014

Total posts 60

As of today, both the UK and France have double-jabbed 68% of people aged 12 and over.

But the UK has a daily infection rate 10 times higher than France, and a daily death rate 3.6 times higher. 

This is proof that high vaccination levels do not give you a Licence to Be Reckless.

Sadly Singapore and the UK have near identical - and atrocious - infection rates and death rates in spite of high vaccination rates. We should either not allow travel to either, or else implement strict quarantine as per the National Plan which every state government and the Commonwealth agreed to, even though NSW, Victoria and the Commonwealth are now ignoring it.

Sadly Singapore is not a suitable country for a travel bubble currently. Their infection and death rates are simply far too high.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 187

Worrying about infection rates is so old school. Even with vaccination the vast majority of people infected just simply recovered. Humanity is so much more than being scared of possibly getting ill. 

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

05 Nov 2014

Total posts 60

@Richard W, as a doctor it is quite startling to be told by you that "worrying about infection rates is so old school". 

That's the bogus pretext that the British government uses for failing to take any precautions beyond vaccination. And it has created a situation in which they and France have identical vaccination rates - both are at precisely 68% of people aged 12 and over - and the UK has 3.6 times as many people dying of Covid every day as France does.

People who want to pretend that the Pandemic is over are actually just prolonging it. And this Covid-denial has turned the UK into a Failed State.

It's a very seductive line when politicians tell you that you can get vaccination levels so high that the Pandemic is tamed. Unfortunately it is a blatant lie. And Singapore and the UK are the proof that high vaccination levels are great, but without additional measures you become the UK compared with France. A Failed State. A laughing stock.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 187

The great thing is, it’s happening, we are opening up, cases are meaningless, they must be because cases will most likely rise but we are continuing to open regardless. And I can tell you no one in the UK is very concerned. Humans are born, they live and then they die. Much better than be born, hiding away all your life being scared just so you can die!!

Only the media make a fuss about cases because it brings in money. 

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 107

@nouflyer

I've seen so many people claim to be medical doctors here on E.T. that sometimes think I've accidentally wandered into a delightfully overstaffed private hospital! Now as for your other claim of Britain being a 'Failed State' (with inexplicable capital letters, no less). An actual failed state looks something like Yemen, Somalia, Haiti, Sudan, and Djibouti. This occurs when government, rule of law (or rule of dictatorship), public services, etc all break down and cease to function. In fact, the Oxford Dictionary defines a failed state thus: a country in which the government is so weak that it has lost control of the structures of the state. Nobody with credibility could claim Britain meets that definition.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

05 Nov 2014

Total posts 60

@sunnybrae

There is a pandemic going on. The UK and France have identical vaccination levels, yet the UK daily infection rate is 1000% worse and the UK daily death rate is 360% worse. By any standard that denotes a complete failure of the British Covid response. It is literally a disaster.

This thread is about an Australia-Singapore travel bubble, as mandated in Phase C of the Australian National Plan conditional upon infection levels in Singapore being low. But infection levels in Singapore are not low - they are the second worst in the entire 38 nation OECD after the UK. And their death rate is the joint second worst in the OECD after the USA, and level with the UK.

We are in this weird state where Australia actually has an agreed national plan, yet the Commonwealth, NSW and VIC are jointly reneging on it. The National Plan is explicit: we have only reached the benchmarks to all be in Phase A, yet NSW and VIC are abolishing the quarantine which is mandatory for high-infection countries like Singapore and the UK even in Phase D.

I have never seen anything like it. The three most powerful governments in the land all violating their own agreement to the National Plan.

And what Perottet and Andrews are proposing is to follow the UK model - the one with infection rates 1000% worse and death rates 360% worse than in equally-vaccinated France. It's just bizarre. It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 187

The travel bubble is opening whether you like it or not. Infection rates must be meaningless because we are going to open regardless. The reason for this is that finally, finally, different governments have realised that there is so much more to consider than just case numbers, people getting ill and death from a coronavirus. And, they are correct. To listen to some hysterical comments here, it is as if no one ever died before Covid? Quite bizarre!

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 107

@nouflyer

Hmmmm. So first you said the U.K. was a "Failed State" (which is patently untrue and self evidently so), but now you try to walk that back untenable whopper and say its only a "complete failure of the British Covid response" (implying a failure of just one aspect of governmental policy and function). Interesting. For some reason I'm reminded of a small child who claims to be so fantastically hungry he "could eat a horse", but only eats one or two small grapes, at the most.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

05 Nov 2014

Total posts 60

Is the word “bubble” too hard for people to comprehend?

NSW kept refusing to seal its end of its border bubble with Queensland because they refused to acknowledge that a bubble is by definition sealed. So Covid waltzed in from Sydney.

Before that the Tasman Bubble fell apart when Covid was seeded into New Zealand from, surprise surprise, Sydney.

The Australian National Plan allows for sealed travel bubbles with countries with minimal circulating Covid, with “proportionate” quarantine arrangements. But Singapore is currently ineligible for a travel bubble with Australia because its levels of circulating virus are too high. Around 4 times too high.

It’s baffling. Why is Australia opening travel bubbles if it is also allowing quarantine-free travel from virus hotspots like London and Delhi?

Is it open slather, or do we require bubbles?

Nobody has officially cancelled the National Plan yet. And it is explicit within it that even in the final phase, Phase D, when everyone has had their booster jab, arrivals from countries with high infection rates go into quarantine.

Singapore has the second highest infection rate in the advanced world after the UK. So under Australia’s National Plan, not only should arrivals from Singapore not be part of a bubble, they should actually be sent into quarantine.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 187

I actually agree with you. It’s not worth setting up a ‘bubble’. Infection rates are obviously meaningless now. Quite right really. Time to all open up as Vic and NSW are doing, quarantine is a waste of resource and money. Get vaccination rates as high as possible to limit the hysterical reaction of a few people and let’s get back to living and travelling. 

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

05 Nov 2014

Total posts 60

@ Richard W, again, as a doctor I have to say that your faith in the absolute protection of vaccines is quaint but misplaced.

Bernal et al (New England Journal of Medicine 385: 585-594) demonstrated that the AstraZeneca vaccine - the one we gave to our most vulnerable population groups - is effective in 67% of cases of the Delta variant, compared with the 88% effective Pfizer jab.

That's why the UK has an infection rate ten times worse than France and a death rate 3.6 times worse. It's why you can't just hide behind a vaccination security blanket. You need to do what the Australian National Plan mandated - have different levels of quarantine for arrivals from different countries.

The Qantas reopening press conference was a sick joke - claiming to have a Covid safe network but actually combining the ultra-high infection rates of London with the low vaccination rates of the USA and adding in Delhi and Johannesburg for comedy effect.

I'm all for reopening. I'm fine with home quarantine for returnees from low-infection rate countries. But abolishing all quarantine from everywhere is a recipe for endless outbreaks and lockdowns and for more disruption, not less.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 187

You are way to concerned about something that is a done deal. I’m fully expecting cases. But it does not matter, counting cases is meaningless. This article is about the opening of international travel. Your comments are only about what you think will result from that and why it is foolish. That’s an opinion that is wasted here. The majority of us are not at all worried like you and so we comment on how great it will be and all the benefits we will get out of it. Look positively at the news or don’t waste time because regardless of your opinion it is happening. 

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2568

Alas, this is another example of an article's comment thread sidetracked and hijacked on issues of Covid, vaccination and policy, rather than comments addressing and adding value to the core subject of the article itself. Due to this, comments on this article are now being closed.

Comments on this article are now closed