Singapore trials business travel 'fast lane' without quarantine period

The 'business travel bubble' concept could be extended to several Covid-clear countries before leisure travel resumes.

By David Flynn, June 10 2020
Singapore trials business travel 'fast lane' without quarantine period

Singapore is now trialling a 'fast lane' for business travellers which removes the need to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine period upon arrival in the city-state.

The arrangement initially applies to travel for business and official government purposes between Singapore and the Chinese provinces or municipalities of Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing, Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

China, where the coronavirus first emerged, appears to have brought its cases under control, while Singapore is moving toward opening its economy after wrestling to contain an outbreak among thousands of foreign workers.

It's seen as a potential precursor for carefully reopening international trade and travel, ahead of measures such as the proposed 'green lane' to countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

Read more: Australia-Singapore travel could restart under 'green lane' plan

The Singaporean government said the move to pilot fast lane arrangements with other countries "is part of Singapore's gradual reopening of our borders for Singaporeans and residents to conduct essential activities overseas and to allow safe travel for foreigners entering Singapore in limited numbers, with the necessary safeguards in place to ensure public health considerations are addressed."

Singapore is prepared to work bilaterally with countries and regions if there are sufficient precautions, such as testing before departure and upon arrival, said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong. Singapore will also take into consideration factors including infection rates in countries and the types of precautions in place.

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said last week that similar discussions were ongoing with other countries.

“Mutual assurance and confidence to put in place effective COVID-19 prevention and control measures are important in such fast lane arrangements, and I look forward to making progress with more countries in our bilateral discussions,” he said.

How Singapore's 'fast lane' works

Fast lane travellers must be tested for Covid-19 two days before their trip, and travel wit a health certificate stating they have tested negative for Covid-19. A second test will be conducted upon landing in Singapore.

Travellers must then remain in isolation at their own expense for 1-2 days until the test result is known – and if the test comes back as positive, they will be hospitalised at their own expense.

But even before getting onto that flight, they need to have government approval to travel and submit an itinerary for the trip.

Once in Singapore, they're not allowed to take public transport such as the MRT and buses, which means that all travel must be via taxi, ride-share services such as Grab, or with hire cars or other transport provided by their company.

They'll also need to have download Singapore's TraceTogether app onto their smartphone and keep it active for the duration of their stay.

Lockdown measures are starting to ease across many Asian countries. Singapore ministers have previously said the nation will likely “start small and selectively” for any border reopening, while continuing to impose a mix of isolation and test requirements.

Still no transits at Changi

However, although Singapore Airlines this week began increasing flights to Australia and the rest of the world, rebuilding a network crippled by the coronavirus pandemic, passengers remain unable to change flights at Changi Airport – despite the government dropping its transit ban as of June 2.

The delay has been caused by the strict requirements which the airport needs to put in place to keep transit passengers separated from inbound and outbound travellers.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, instead of browsing the duty-free shops or kicking back in the airline lounge, transit passengers must "remain in designated facilities in the transit area and not mix with other passengers whilst at Changi Airport."

Changi Airport is still working through putting those 'transit lane' arrangements in place for individual airlines, although Executive Traveller understands that Singapore Airlines is hopeful that it can resume carrying transit passengers in the coming weeks.

For the time being, this has reduced Singapore Airlines to being a point-to-point airline, although travel restrictions in place in both Australia and Singapore have understandably shifted the airline's flying focus from passengers to cargo.

Also read: What's it like to fly with Singapore Airlines during the coronavirus?

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.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 692

The heading is not quite right. There is no 14 day quarantine period but there is a 2 day period, presumably at own expense, on arrival in SIN pending the result of the test. For a business traveller, this is not exactly compelling and constitutes more an amber lane than a green lane. I regularly visit SIN for work and do need to go there currently but probably wouldn't bother with this level of restriction in place.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 130

Well said, and neither would I. Fortunately, I don't do business in Singapore but in other countries of mainland SE Asia as well as China. I will wait until these countries re-open without having to undergo stringent restrictions first.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Feb 2015

Total posts 21

I live in Taiwan and there are almost no cases left, whilst SG has still abundant active cases. Why would I need to go through this tough process to be in a country positioned well behing compared to my origin country? As reeves35 said...better stay home and wait further improvements...

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

06 Feb 2014

Total posts 71

I wouldn't bother travelling overseas till the

Pandemic is over. I would rather just travel within Australia or to NZ, and not face all these restrictions and be forced to be admitted to a Singapore hospital for a minor covid infection!

04 Jan 2014

Total posts 41

Hopefully, it would only be a minor Covid-19 infection...A bit of a lottery, and a risk I am not prepared to take. Video conferencing has never looked better, if at times frustrating/

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

30 Aug 2018

Total posts 9

I often have to visit manufacturing facilities to set up new products for production - compared to simply not being able to go this would actually be useful. (Doing this remotely is possible but gets harder, slower and riskier the more complex the product) I can put up with 2 days locked in the hotel at each end but not 14 (risk of Covid infection not withstanding).

I'm not optimistic the Australian government would entertain such an idea though.


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