Coronavirus Singapore/WHO report

Talks on vaccine cert the first step towards quarantine-less travel

Passengers at Changi Airport Terminal 1 late last year. The Ministry of Transport said it was looking to establish new travel arrangements with countries and regions which have "successfully controlled the pandemic through surveillance and testing, c
Passengers at Changi Airport Terminal 1 late last year. The Ministry of Transport said it was looking to establish new travel arrangements with countries and regions which have "successfully controlled the pandemic through surveillance and testing, contact tracing and social distancing measures".ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Discussions on mutual recognition of Covid-19 vaccination certification will be the first step towards re-establishing travel without quarantine or stay-home notice, said Singapore's Ministry of Transport (MOT).

In response to queries from The Straits Times, MOT said yesterday that it was looking to establish these new travel arrangements with countries and regions which have "successfully controlled the pandemic through surveillance and testing, contact tracing and social distancing measures".

Vaccination offers a further means of bringing down Covid-19 infection rates, said a spokesman for MOT.

He said these discussions about vaccination certification at the International Civil Aviation Organisation, as well as bilaterally, will take some time since most places have only just started vaccinations and are looking into certifications.

"We will provide further updates at appropriate junctures when significant progress has been made with our partner countries or regions," added the spokesman.

On March 15, Australia's Tourism Minister Dan Tehan announced plans to travel to Singapore to discuss the creation of a digital vaccine passport system.

Meanwhile, China rolled out its vaccine passport earlier this month, while Germany and the United States are working towards developing their own soon.

On Monday, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said Singapore was studying a proposal from Hong Kong to reopen borders safely.

This follows his announcement on March 12 that bilateral travel corridors for vaccinated passengers from places with low to moderate infection rates may well happen in the second half of this year.

While vaccinations are changing the game, this needs to work in tandem with other measures such as testing, movement restrictions and identifying countries that are safe and have successfully controlled the virus, Mr Ong said in an interview with Money FM 89.3.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2021, with the headline 'Talks on vaccine cert the first step towards quarantine-less travel'. Subscribe