Australia-Singapore travel could restart under 'green lane' plan

Australia and Singapore are in discussions to establish a 'travel bubble' which could also include South Korea.

By David Flynn, May 31 2020
Australia-Singapore travel could restart under 'green lane' plan

Travel between Australia and Singapore could reopen without 14-day isolation periods under a 'green lane' proposal now under discussion by the two countries.

Singapore's Covid-safe air corridor would also extend to Malaysia, South Korea and New Zealand, said Singapore Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing.

"Reciprocal green lane agreements means there must be mutual assurance of each other's test protocol and standards," he said at a virtual press conference over the weekend, adding that a 14-day quarantine at both ends would be "essentially unworkable" for the tropical travel bubble to succeed.

Chan told media that Singapore is conducting discussions "with as many countries as possible" on forming green lanes, although participating countries would need to have confidence in each other's safeguards and, as reported by The Straits Times, "coordinate their quarantine orders so that travellers might only need to be tested or quarantined once."

Singapore's Changi Airport will once again allow transit passengers from this week as the city-state ends its eight-week long 'circuit breaker' lockdown and gradually brings its economy back to life, although 'working from home' will remain the default, restaurants and hawker centres will be only allowed to serve take-away meals, and masks must be worn at all times in public.

Visitors are still not allowed to enter Singapore, however, and leisure travel for residents is also banned.

Bubbles and air bridges

International travel is expected to reopen for Australians to New Zealand in the third quarter of this year under a joint trans-Tasman bubble which may include other Pacific Island nations such as Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

"We are both very keen on it ... across both sides of the ditch,” says NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. "It won’t be too long before we are ready."

Government and airport officials, airlines and health specialists have been shaping the joint plan, which is expected to be tabled by the end of June, although it's yet to be determined if travellers would require some form of 'immunity passport' such as a negative test for COVID-19.

Greece has also invited Australia to join a global travel bubble of trusted countries from which it will accept visitors as of June 15 as part of the country's 'Restart Tourism' plan.

Participation in the 'Aegean air corridor' would require approval by the Australian government, as well as state governments with border restrictions, and the lifting of the current mandatory 14-day quarantine imposed on all inbound travellers.

A staged restart for travel

Professor Kevin Markwell, Professor of Tourism at Australia’s Southern Cross University, told Executive Traveller “once it was considered safe enough by medical authorities, it would make sense to open up Australia to international tourism in a staged way, just as other sectors of the economy are likely to transition in a staged way.”

“Both countries have put in place measures that appear to be working at reducing COVID-19 infections and could get to a stage where it was considered by medical authorities safe to begin travel.”

However, Markwell suggested that travel might be restricted to those with a lower risk of suffering serious illness “and perhaps requiring all travellers to download an app which could be used to track their movements within each country, in case this was necessary to trace contacts if any further outbreaks were to take place.”

“The ability to quickly put a halt on travel between the two countries will also need to be built into any strategy,” Markwell cautions. “Whether people would be willing to risk travel if their travel insurance didn’t cover them for illness associated with COVID-19 is another consideration."

Also read: Post-coronavirus, airline routes to be based on bubbles and corridors

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

adi
adi

28 May 2020

Total posts 28

Simple and cost effective way with maximum health protection and the best possible travel safety:

Passengers can now take the COVID-19 PCR test directly at Vienna Airport. The results are available in about three hours. The quarantine can be immediately terminated on the basis of negative test findings. If needed, VAH can support travellers arriving via the General Aviation Center to organise such a COVID-19 PCR test.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 450

There are a number of current cases in Perth quarantine who tested negative on arrival from other countries and have since tested positive. On arrrival quarantine is succeeding in keeping Covid19 out of the community in WA.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1141

adi the big issue is false negatives. These tests even with high reliability even at 99% still can give a false negative an on such a low infection rate in the population (around 1%) the chance of infected people getting through is quite high. The other issue is whether presence of antibodies itself a reliable indicator. The issue, therefore, is whether any other country will accept that test and let them back without quarantine

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 345

I can't see this happening any time soon. Singapore still has 500+ new cases per day.

16 Jan 2018

Total posts 108

I can imagine it changing sooner than it seems. Singapore is geographically smaller than Australia so it's easier to trace and monitor. They've reduced daily average count from just over 1000 two weeks ago to just under 500 last week daily. At that rate they'll be down to Australia numbers by the end of June unless there is another cluster that comes up like what they had causing this spike. Hong Kong could also end up on the list due to their case numbers as well.

13 Feb 2015

Total posts 61

"unless there is another cluster that comes up like what they had causing this spike"

But that's the issue though. Pretty sure the health authorities would want to be confident they have a handle on how to effectively and quickly deal with clusters.

Hong Kong is likely to have other issues to deal with over the next little while unfortunately.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 87

Clusters will occur, get over it and stop being scared.

Since the dawn of time, humans have caught various viruses, we can build immunity and as long as 'at risk' people take care, the rest of us can travel with few limitations.

Deaths through depression and mental health concerns, not to mention severe economic troubles, are thousands of times worse than a virus.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 87

Correct Sydini, this is all about control, it should not be about elimination which would be so severe on the economies of the world and the mental health of us all, that we need to have simple precautions and checks but move ahead and travel as we wish.

JJM
JJM

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Mar 2013

Total posts 18

Grannular,

All but a small handful of these daily announced cases are within the migrant worker community here in Singapore, who are all quarantined in their dormitory facilities, or other locations, away from the general population. Last week saw one day of zero cases, and in most recent days the reported cases in the general community were less than 5.

At the moment, virtually nothing is open island wide aside from, for example, grocery stores, medical centres, pharmacies and hairdressing salons. Some restaurants and hawker centres stalls are open, but only for delivery. The majority of hotels have been commandeered for occupation by essential workers, and unwell migrant workers.

Hotel restaurants are open for room service only. Masks must be worn at all times when you are outside your residence, and you are unable to visit anyone who is not a member of your household. The financial district is deserted on the basis that everyone must work from home. Orchard Road is a ghost town.

Some of these restrictions are being lifted tomorrow, but, for expats, the difference to today will not be discernible. Further easing, allowing the opening of some restaurants, and small gatherings, are slated for later this month.

My very strong advice is that, should this “green lane” travel commence, intending business travellers to Singapore should, prior to committing to the trip, gain a total understanding of the rules that will apply to them whilst on the ground here, and strictly adhere to them.

As an example, a small group of expats, who dared to sit together in a public place a few weeks ago, are now going through the court system, after the photo of them, taken by a “concerned Singaporean”, and a story, appeared on the front page of the Straits Times. I expect that, at a minimum, they will be heftily fined. At worst, they may be jailed. I also expect that they will have their employment passes cancelled, and be required to return home. Yes, they broke the rules, but does the punishment fit the crime?

In contrast, Singaporeans in my area (Katong) are flagrantly flouting the laws by grocery shopping in family groups, eating in at hawker centres, wearing masks only partially, and visiting other households (very obvious in my condo complex) seemingly with impunity. And, I can't imagine that all the cars on the road are for essential travel - the busiest “vehicle” day I've seen in the past few weeks was Mother's day. Hmmmmm!

But, that said, it's their country!

10 Jul 2017

Total posts 34

this wont happen until 2023 earliest

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

02 Jul 2018

Total posts 43

Where is the travel bubble with Taipei?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Aug 2017

Total posts 109

Exactly. All this talk about Singapore. We should be looking at HK, Taiwan (the worlds best COVID response arguably) and Japan well before Singapore who are the worst Corona hit country in all of SEA!

JJM
JJM

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Mar 2013

Total posts 18

PERflyer,

See my post above. The overwhelming majority of cases here in Singapore are and always have been in the now quarantined migrant worker population, not the general population.

I'm no Singapore Government fanboy (also see my post), but the perception that the disease is rife here within the general community is simply incorrect.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Aug 2017

Total posts 109

Sorry I don't care if they are “migrant” population or the Singapore Chinese population. It is bad enough the conditions the “migrant population” are in in the first place. (Which I'll refrain from mentioning here) I'm not looking what ethnic groups are with the virus in a particular country and it does not excuse the fact SG is the most a Corona riddled country in SEA.

However I enjoy Singapore and can not wait to go back once it is under control. But this whole “it's only the migrant population” thing has got to stop. They are large cases in Singapore full stop.

My point still stands countries with a much better handle on Corona like Taiwan , Japan , HK we should be looking at first after the NZ bubble.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Feb 2019

Total posts 12

The migrant worker population is counted separately in government data because that group resides in purpose-built dormitories and since the lockdown does not mix with the broader community. They are under a separate quarantine arrangement. Presumably, any green lane arrangement with Australia would not apply to them, but only to the rest of the Singaporean population, where transmission has already been very low (two days of zero cases in the past week), and where effective lockdown measures will continue to apply for at least a few weeks.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Aug 2017

Total posts 109

I understand your point. But the data the world sees is total cases per country etc. Not a broken down version unless we specifically look for it. You could argue lots of countries (Including Australia) have their active cases locked away just in hotels instead of dormitories.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Feb 2019

Total posts 12

Thankfully the bilateral negotiations for the green lane arrangement will mean that governments will be looking precisely at these sorts of details, as well as shared standards around testing, contact tracing, ability to quickly shut down travel, etc.

And no, it is not merely active cases in the migrant worker population in Singapore that are being quarantined - the entire workforce of migrant workers is being quarantined from the main population and is being progressively tested. It would imagine it would be unsettling if you were a healthy migrant worker, not being able to get away from dense conditions where there is a high infection rate - but it also means that there is no possibility of those migrant workers coming into contact with the broader Singaporean population, to which this green lane arrangement would apply.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Aug 2017

Total posts 109

Thanks for the info let's hope we can get this industry back in any capacity ASAP. Tough gig being a migrant worker but that's for another forum!

AWD
AWD

02 Jun 2020

Total posts 1

"migrant population" is the wrong term...

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1141

Or vietnam

01 Jun 2020

Total posts 1

Such a rush to spread Covid. The time to start travel between two countries is when both have completed 14 days since the last-cured case.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Aug 2017

Total posts 109

Unfortunately it is not that easy with the incubation period, silent spreaders and some reliability doubts of the testing in the first place. The aim should be to control the virus not eliminate it.

adi
adi

28 May 2020

Total posts 28

A quick 20-minute test instead of a 14-day quarantine is being considered by some countries, so could it be coming to Australia?

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1141

adi you still haven addressed my point below the big issue is false negatives. These tests even with high reliability even at 99% still can give a false negative and on such a low infection rate in the population (around 1%) the chance of infected people getting through is quite high. The other issue is whether the presence of antibodies is itself a reliable indicator (how long they take to appear etc). The issue, therefore, is whether any other country will accept that test and let them back without quarantine. Given Australia's experience with false negatives (see below) I doubt it. Also I am not sure how travel firms have the epidemiological experience to call for such things, or be cited as being reliable.

adi
adi

28 May 2020

Total posts 28

I read it on thesun .co .uk in the /travel/ section. There are several countries that are already using testing or going to introduce it in June to avoid 14-day quarantines: Austria, Iceland (June 15), Spain (June 21 no quarantine), Italy (June 3 no quarantine), Greece. The proposal does not only come from travel firms. Other groups of experts that look into also include scientists and aviation experts. (I guess it is better than an advice from a former IT manager). Australia could at least open travel corridors between a few countries in EU that have lower number of cases.

adi: We encourage all readers to engage in the comments section by sharing their own thoughts and ideas about the topic at-hand, but please do not copy-paste text from other news websites into the comments section here, as published text is subject to copyright and cannot be reproduced without the publisher's permission. We've had to truncate several of your recent comments to remove copied text.

adi
adi

28 May 2020

Total posts 28

Hi Chris, you are right, sorry about the text, my bad; I'll be more careful what and how I post.

22 Sep 2017

Total posts 39

This is a guy that thinks cotton comes from sheep, I wouldn't take his thought bubbles too seriously.

adi
adi

28 May 2020

Total posts 28

Please do not offend people just because you have a different opinion. I hope we are all here to help each other.

08 May 2020

Total posts 55

I have to wait to see what the situation is at the end of June, for travel in early August. I have to make a decision to either rebook for 2021, or get credit the Money for future travel or get it refunded for the tickets purchased in January 2020 with SA to Phuket. Further to the dilemma is the issue with the Virgin Velocity Platinum which will be most likely inactive with SA getting points and Status Credits. Further to the Dilemma is the attitude of the Australian Premiers with their Border closure stupidity, I can only hope that the travel restriction lifting to the Pacific Nations will end soon as an alternative to the Asian Holiday.


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