How an Australia-Singapore ‘Vaccinated Travel Lane’ could work

With Singapore and Germany trialling a Vaccinated Travel Lane from next week, how could this extend to Australia?

By David Flynn, September 6 2021
How an Australia-Singapore ‘Vaccinated Travel Lane’ could work

Singapore will begin welcoming visitors from Germany this week in the first trial of its new ‘Vaccinated Travel Lane' concept as the country juggles the competing needs to reopen its economy while keeping the population safe from Covid outbreaks.

The system will allow travellers from Germany to freely enter Singapore without quarantine from September 8 on specially-designated VTL flights by Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa.

Australia is a likely VTL candidate once its own vaccination rates reach 80%, which is expected to happen by mid-November.

Indeed, Singapore is sending some 500,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines from its existing stocks to Australia to speed the country towards its target, with Australia giving the same quantity of vaccinates back at a later date after Singapore has drawn down its existing supplies and looks at providing booster shots for some segments of its population.

Talks of restarting travel between Australia and Singapore began last year with the earliest notions of a 'travel bubble', similar to that briefly established with New Zealand – which at the time required little more than a little extra paperwork.

But the ‘Vaccinated Travel Lane' is more stringent – and looking at the Singapore-Germany VTL shows how the same system would be applied to Australia.

A key criteria, of course, is that any country included in a VTL corridor must be deemed 'low-risk' in terms of vaccination rates and control of Covid cases, and must also make a reciprocal welcome to travellers from Singapore.

Singapore’s strict ‘Vaccinated Travel Lane’ system

Assuming Australia meets these requirements, would-be travellers to Singapore would need to be fully-vaccinated against Covid-19 (with the final dose given at least 14 days prior to arrival in Singapore) with a vaccine recognised by the World Health Organisation.

That list includes both the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines currently being used in Australia, along with the forthcoming doses of Moderna.

Travellers will need to provide proof of vaccination in the form of an electronic or physical vaccination certificate – this is covered by the government-issued digital certificates but will also encompass the Travel Pass 'vaccine passport' app being rolled out by Qantas and Singapore Airlines.

Also read: How to add a Covid-19 vaccination card to Apple Wallet or Google Pay

VTL travellers must also have remained in their country of origin for at least 21 consecutive days before departure – which is not much of an issue in Australia right now, but could be worth bearing in mind if New Zealand and Singapore both open up around the same time.

Short-term visitors to Singapore must apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass issued between 7 and 30 days prior to their intended date of entry into Singapore, and – at least during the VTL pilot – travel on a specific flight designated for passengers holding that pass.

The VTL system is also only for passengers staying in Singapore, not for those in transit (so this can't be used as a 'backdoor method' to fly off to another country).

Extensive Covid testing

Finally, there's Covid-19 testing at both ends of the journey, with a pre-departure test done within 48 hours before the flight to Singapore departs; an on-arrival test at Singapore's Changi Airport; and up to two post-arrival tests in Singapore, on day 3 and day 7, through a government-authorised clinic.

Accommodation has to be booked for the duration of your stay in Singapore, and must include an en suite bathroom to meet on-arrival testing isolation requirements.

After landing at Changi and completing the on-arrival test, travellers "must take private transport only to your designated accommodation and self-isolate until you receive your on-arrival test results," which is typically within 24 hours.

You'll also need to download Singapore's TraceTogether app and keep it running on your smartphone "at all times while in Singapore."

Another requirement for short-term visitors is "insurance coverage of at least SGD30,000 for Covid-19 medical treatment and hospitalisation costs." Singapore Airlines is already offering travel insurance which meets this requirement.

There's no doubting this seems like a dizzying set of requirements, especially when compared to the easy and hassle-free nature of pre-Covid travel, and things might loosen somewhat after this VTL trial phase is complete.

Also read: Qantas considering ‘Points Planes’ flights for Singapore

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.

That's a lot of hoops for some chill crab.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Jul 2018

Total posts 5

I need to read the fine print to see what it says about Under 12s, especially toddlers. The general consensus globally seems to be that they should be exempt from needing a vaccine, but are not exempt for the testing.

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

20 Apr 2015

Total posts 26

Unfortunately the German/Singapore VTL does not exempt unvaccinated children.

04 Dec 2017

Total posts 68

Pass...not quite that desperate to travel overseas this year. Maybe from Spring '22.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jun 2020

Total posts 11

This is the smart way to do it and allows people vaccinated freedoms. The kids side I assume wouldn't have to be vaccinated but still have to get tested.

I always thought even locally aiports would utilize rapid tests and new covid detection technology (when available). test as get to airport.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 648

Whilst I have a lot of affection for Singapore and its people, it's a plain fact that their multiple attempts over the past 18-20 months to arrange a travel bubble with Hong Kong has resulted in absolutely naught, zero, nothing. Perhaps this option of a VTL might be a tad bit ambitious?

Yes, I know that Scotty from marketing has been promising travel with Singapore - likewise with South Korea, Taiwan and a few other countries (including Canada and the USA). Trouble is that each of these countries each have vaccination rates which are equal to or better than Australia's - but also way higher daily diagnosis rates, as well.

One would think that if any nation in the South Pacific were to be invited to initially participate / test this new VTL, then it would be New Zealand (before Australia). Smaller total population, lower case numbers than Australia etc.

Seems to me that there may be a lot of 'jump the gun' diplomacy going on, which may - in certain circumstances - amount to nothing (apart from disappointed Aussies having their hopes raised). Just to appeal to the simmering public demand.

Whilst the supposition that "things might loosen after the trial is complete" (last paragraph) it is also equally possible that the trial may well fail ... or be completely derailed by another Singaporean outbreak.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 441

The normal entry scheme for German nationals entering Singapore is less cumbersome than the VTL. For instance, the VTL requires a pre-flight Covid test, which if positive, means at least a 21 day stay in Germany before you will be allowed to fly.

By contrast, no pre-flight Covid test is necessary for Singaporean nationals to use the normal scheme. Vaccination isn't required either and you can get on any flight that operates directly between the two countries. A 7-day home quarantine is compulsory upon arrival in Singapore.

So for me, the VTL looks way more risky.

26 Mar 2020

Total posts 29

seems like a lot of requirements for a "fully vaccinated traveller" - i thought a pre-departure test and on arrival, test would be sufficient.

The chance of vaccinated traveller becoming infected is already reduced by the vaccine itself and then on top of that Singapore has 80% of its population also vaccinated which is even less risk.

22 Sep 2018

Total posts 2

An Aircraft fuselage is like a hyperbaric chamber, if it can be modified slightly, so that Oxygen and Pressure levels could be altered increased, then you have an oxygen therapy environment.

So instead of the plane being an incubator for the virus, in could provide the respiratory environment to help passenger lungs to overcome the virus.

Stringent new rules about bringing anything that could cause flame in the high oxygen enriched environment, would be a major necessity.

Not only could this type of flight fight COVID-19, it could bring the airlines back from the dead.

This is way too cumbersome for a weeks relaxation, easier to fly to Europe if fully vaccinated that is if we can leave Prison Australia

05 Jan 2018

Total posts 46

that pre-departure test could become very expensive and very inconvenient very quickly.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jan 2015

Total posts 74

Totally get the cautious approach but for my work trips which might be 2-3 days at most not worth the hassle. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Jun 2014

Total posts 188

Hmm, the sooner testing is abolished for the vaccinated the better. If we are living with covid then surely we are accepting a level of circulation of the virus. Imagine going through the process of this in addition to the usual travel preperations just to test positive and have to cancel at the last minute...

07 May 2020

Total posts 136

NOT SO FAST WITH YOUR SPECULATION? Singapore infection cases became virtually zero in October 2020. Yes October 2020. Now the population is almost fully vaccinated, how come suddenly in July 2021 infection rates start to appear again and continue to climb? You can't believe politicians who have ZERO knowledge or idea about any biological science. They just want to get you injected hoping that the strategy will work. Well I'm afraid that it won't. Nobody in Australia seems to want to accept what is happening outside their bubble.

UA

09 Mar 2016

Total posts 58

GoRobin, I believe the July increase in Singapore was all Delta variant, as it has been here, in NZ, and everywhere else, pretty much. Indirectly, it is also Delta that has forced governments and public health people to abandon elimination strategies and to rush to vaccinate and then to start opening up.  Of course, being fully vaccinated does not mean you can't get infected and pass the virus onto somebody else. It just means you don't get sick and are less likely to infect others.

07 May 2020

Total posts 136

Mikana, indeed the "delta" variant is the current flavour which has reinvigorated the state of panic. So do you really think that being vaccinated, and possibly also infected by delta at some stage, that the Australian states will forgive you and let you enter without quarantine? Hardly likely, but wishful thinking. You said it, and I'm not disputing it, that you can still get infected even fully vaccinated. That possibility alone is the only reason why incoming travellers will still need to quarantine. I wouldn't call that a bubble.

07 May 2020

Total posts 136

Mikana, if you're infected you can still pass it on. That is why vaccinated and unvaccinated incoming travellers will still need to quarantine. You should know very well in NZ that the government would not forgive you from quarantine for that very reason. Otherwise they would already be doing so.


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