Singapore-Australia travel bubble being discussed; no talks on quarantine or vaccination hub: MFA

MFA's statement comes on the back of Australian media reports on a travel bubble between Singapore and Australia.
MFA's statement comes on the back of Australian media reports on a travel bubble between Singapore and Australia.PHOTOS: ST FILE, AFP

SINGAPORE - Singapore is discussing the possibility of an air travel bubble which will allow residents of Singapore and Australia to travel between both countries without the need for quarantine, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Sunday (March 14).

It noted however, that the Republic is not in discussions on the concept of a quarantine centre or vaccination hub.

It was responding to media queries following a report in The Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday, which said that the Australian government was working on a plan to establish Singapore as a quarantine gateway, holiday destination and potential vaccination hub for returning Australians, international students and business travellers.

"We are not in discussion on the concept of a quarantine centre or vaccination hub," said MFA in a statement.

Options being looked at include a travel bubble and priority travel for some groups. 

"Singapore is currently in discussions with Australia on the mutual recognition of vaccination certificates and resumption of travel with priority for students and business travellers," said the ministry.

"We are also discussing the possibility of an air travel bubble which will allow residents of Singapore and Australia to travel between both countries without the need for quarantine."

Australian nationals can already transit via Singapore without quarantining to return home if they travel on approved transit routes.

"Australia is a key partner of Singapore in the region," said MFA.

"We are in discussions on how to cooperate in opening our economies safely, taking into consideration the Covid-19 situation in both countries. Thus far, Singapore and Australia have been able to control the Covid-19 pandemic."

Australia currently has a one-way "travel bubble" with New Zealand, allowing New Zealanders to visit without quarantining, though the scheme has been suspended a number of times in response to coronavirus outbreaks.

Singapore so far has only one travel bubble - with Hong Kong. This has yet to kick in due to the increase in Hong Kong cases last year.

The city state is looking to establish reciprocal travel bubbles with more countries, but this has not taken off so far.

Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung has said these may well become a reality in the second half of the year with places with low to moderate infection rates.