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Here’s how Singapore plans to resume international travel safely


SINGAPORE — Singapore has no home air travel market and “can’t wait around for a vaccine” earlier than permitting extra guests to enter by way of international flights, the nation’s transport minister stated on Monday.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the worldwide aviation business laborious, as many international locations shut their borders and restricted travel to sluggish the virus unfold. Singapore has not been spared both, and is pulling out all of the stops to revive its essential airline business.

For a small nation like Singapore, the aviation sector wants “all these connections in order to be economically viable,” Ong Ye Kung, the transport minister, instructed CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

“We can’t wait around for a vaccine, we got to start doing something, active steps,” he added.

The tiny Southeast Asian nation has arrange bilateral preparations with a number of international locations to enable enterprise travel, together with China, South Korea and Malaysia.

While these “reciprocal green lane” preparations for company vacationers hold “essential business dealings going,” they’re nonetheless “quite restrictive” and will not assist to revive Singapore’s aviation sector, Ong stated.

An empty baggage assortment space on the arrival terminal at Changi Airport on March 24, 2020 in Singapore.

Suhaimi Abdullah | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Instead, common travel should resume, stated the minister. He added that Singapore is working to set up so-called “travel bubbles” with international locations which have saved their Covid-19 outbreak underneath management.

“We can open up safely because there are countries, regions that’ve kept the epidemic under control … and testings are no longer a constraint,” he stated.

How travel bubbles work

The minister declined to reveal the international locations that Singapore is in talks with to arrange these travel bubbles. But he stated China, Vietnam and Brunei are amongst people who have comparable or higher threat profiles in contrast to Singapore.

Such international locations accounted for round 42% of Singapore’s air passenger quantity earlier than the pandemic, stated Ong. Currently, Singapore’s Changi Airport — among the many world’s busiest earlier than the coronavirus outbreak — is serving simply 1.5% of its standard passenger quantity, he added.

He defined that international locations thought of “safe” could be handled as “one single quarantine area” with Singapore. That implies that individuals from these international locations could not have to apply for permission to travel inside the bubble, however could also be examined upon arrival as a precaution, he stated.

Singapore also needs to “actively explore” lifting border restrictions for vacationers from international locations of upper dangers of transmission, stated Ong. But for such international locations, quarantine necessities will doubtless deter travel even when borders are open, he added.

The minister named three measures that, collectively, might exchange a quarantine upon arrival:

  • A protocol of repeated testing. That means testing vacationers earlier than their departure, upon arrival, and on particular days throughout their travel;
  • Control the venues that such vacationers can go to;
  • Robust contact tracing to rapidly establish individuals who could also be contaminated.

The measures might enable vacationers to “come in, get business done or visit a loved one — or for whatever compassionate reasons you need to come in,” stated Ong.

“I think we should also actively explore that so that we keep the channels and links open so that when epidemic control is more successful, we can reopen and elevate that into a bubble.”



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