Close to 10 months since the Covid-19 virus unleashed itself upon the world, Singapore is carefully relaxing travel restrictions to certain locations and opening more green lanes to allow for essential and business travel. And with Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung’s announcement on 6 October that the city-state is negotiating Air Travel Bubbles with safe countries and regions in a bid to revive Singapore’s aviation sector, many are hopeful that travel will resume soon, albeit at a slower, more measured pace. If you’re currently based in Singapore, here’s a guide on where you can travel to now, and for what purpose.
Brunei and New Zealand
Singapore opened its borders to visitors from these two countries from 1 September and is allowing leisure travel there as well. This is because both countries have managed to control the Covid-19 outbreak and have low infection rates. Visitors from Brunei and New Zealand will have to undergo a Covid-19 test on arrival and remain in their accommodation until they receive a negative result. However, New Zealand’s border remains close to all but citizens and residents. Brunei and Singapore established a green lane for short-term business and official trips between the two countries in September. Travellers must adhere to strict health protocols such as Covid-19 testing before departure and upon arrival. Travellers have to strictly abide by their business or work itineraries for the first 14 days of their stay.
Vietnam and Australia
Singapore is currently updating its travel advisories to allow leisure travel to Australia (except Victoria) and Vietnam. It will also allow travellers from Vietnam and Australia, except those from the state of Victoria, to enter the country from 8 October. Australia has largely lowered its community transmissions of Covid-19 outside of Victoria state, which is currently in lockdown. Meanwhile, Vietnam successfully contained two waves of infections and has a low rate of local community cases. While both countries are continuing to restrict entry, Singapore’s Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said he has spoken to authorities in both locations and they have said they will consider removing restrictions on travellers who arrive from Singapore. Visitors from Australia and Vietnam will have to undergo a Covid-19 test on arrival in the city-state and remain in their accommodation until they receive a negative result.
The British government issued a statement on 18 September that Singapore and Thailand have been removed from the list of countries from which travellers must quarantine when entering England. The same applies for entry into Wales and Scotland, as well as Northern Ireland. Visitors entering the United Kingdom have to be in Singapore for at least 14 days prior to arriving and have to complete a passenger locator form. However, when you return to Singapore, you’ll need to serve a 14-day stay-home notice at a dedicated facility and bear the related costs.
China was the first to establish a green lane with Singapore back in June for six provinces: Chongqing, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Tianjin and Zhejiang. Travellers heading there for business or official matters need not serve a quarantine of up to 14 days but must undergo Covid-19 swab tests.
According to reports, Japan is planning to remove a ban on overseas travel to China and 11 other countries in November, which includes Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea. Currently, Japan and Singapore have a “business track” for essential travel, whereby short-term business travellers will be subject to a controlled itinerary for the first 14 days, with the necessary public health safeguards such as testing before travellers leave and after they arrive.
Singapore and Malaysia launched a Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) from 17 August to facilitate essential business and official travel between both countries for up to 14 days, with the necessary safeguards in place. They also launched a Periodic Commuting Arrangement, which allows Singapore and Malaysia residents who hold long-term immigration passes for business and work purposes in the other country to periodically return to their home countries for short-term home leave.
A fast lane was established for essential business and official travel between South Korea and Singapore from September, with travellers having to abide by prevailing public health measures. These include pre-departure and post-arrival testing as well as adhering to a controlled itinerary for the first 14 days upon their arrival.
Indonesia is the latest country to establish a green lane for essential business and official travel. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on October 12 that applications will open on Oct 26 and travel will start soon after. Like the other countries, travellers will have to abide by COVID-19 prevention and public health measures agreed by both countries, including pre-departure and post-arrival swab tests from mutually recognised health institutions.
Hong Kong and Singapore have reached an agreement in principle on a two-way, quarantine-free travel bubble, announced the Ministry of Transport on 15 October. Those travelling under the bubble will have no restrictions on their travel purpose and will not need to have a controlled itinerary. More details are to be worked out, but the bubble could commence within several weeks and requires travellers to prove they have tested negative for coronavirus.
The information is accurate as of press time. For updated information, please refer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website.
To learn more about Singapore Airlines flights, visit singaporeair.com.
This piece was first published on 10 October 2020.