After more than a year of travel disruption caused by the pandemic, Singapore and Australia will work towards establishing a quarantine-free air travel bubble between the two countries, their prime ministers said on Thursday.
“We discussed how two-way travel between Singapore and Australia can eventually resume, in a safe and calibrated manner, when both sides are ready,” Singapore leader Lee Hsien Loong told a joint news conference with visiting Australian counterpart Scott Morrison.
Both Singapore and Australia have avoided the severe coronavirus outbreaks suffered by many countries, with total cases at just over 62,000 and 30,000 respectively.
Lee said infrastructure and processes for resuming travel needed to be put in place, starting with mutual recognition of health and vaccination certificates, Reuters reported.
“When all preparations are ready, then we can start small with an air travel bubble to build confidence on both sides,” he said.
Morrison, who stopped in Singapore on his way to Britain for the G7 Leaders’ Summit, is the first foreign leader to make an official visit to the city state since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic last year.
The leaders’ discussions also included a potential fintech bridge and exploration of a green economy agreement.
Morrison said he welcomed the countries working together to put the systems in place to enable a bubble to emerge between them. However, he said: “There is still some time before we reach that milestone.”
CNA reported that the two countries are also in discussions on resuming travel with priority for students and business travellers, Singapore’s foreign affairs ministry said in response to media queries.
“Australia is a key partner of Singapore in the region. We are in discussions on how to cooperate in opening our economies safely, taking into consideration the Covid-19 situation in both countries,” it said.