It was announced back in mid-March that the federal government was working on a plan to create a travel bubble with Singapore, that would see Australians able to travel there once they’ve been vaccinated for COVID-19.
Now, Australia and Singapore governments have vowed to double-down on setting this plan into motion, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison declaring he wants the South-East Asian nation to be next in line for quarantine-free travel after New Zealand.
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he and Morrison had discussed “how two-way travel can eventually resume in a safe and calibrated manner when both sides are ready”.
ScoMo (Scott Morrison, for anyone playing at home), has confirmed that students will be among the first group of people that will be allowed to travel between Australia and Singapore, in a travel bubble arrangement that will happen “sooner rather than later”.
Lee also confirmed that students would be the first priority following talks between the two leaders in Singapore on Thursday, as told by The Guardian.
“Before COVID-19 many Singaporeans travelled to Australia for business, holidays and to pursue their education,” Lee said.
“We need to resume these people-to-people flows to maintain our close and excellent bilateral relationship.
“We need to prepare the infrastructure and the processes to get ready to do this, and this starts with mutual recognition of vaccination certificates, possibly in a digital form – very likely – and when all the preparations are ready we can start small with an air travel bubble to build confidence on both sides.”
Given their initial agreement on allowing travel post-vaccinations, both countries are likely months away from an official announcement.
Of getting the Australian population vaccinated, ScoMo said that there’s “still some time before we reach that milestone, but there is nothing impeding us, as we discussed today, from getting on with the job, of putting systems in place that will enable such a bubble to emerge between Singapore and Australia”.
In addition to ramping up the travel bubble plan, Australia and Singapore signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to collaborate on emerging health technologies, as well as agreeing on a “fin-tech bridge” and technology partnerships for reducing emissions in shipping and port operations.
This is a pleasant surprise in the way of reducing carbon emissions from an Australian point of view, as we’ve seen very little development in that area compared to other, more progressively-minded governments.
Thank you PM Lee. While a brief visit, we got through a lot. The importance of ASEAN, regional security challenges, defence ties, working on a future travel bubble, our new hydrogen technology partnership, and a new FinTech bridge agreement. Hope to see you soon in Australia. https://t.co/SwVDLQj3bk
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) June 10, 2021
Overall, we’re pretty happy to see ongoing travel talks.
Although we’re still a little way off beating COVID-19, with clusters, lockdowns and border closures popping up all over the shop right now, talks of future travel make us feel hopeful.