Singapore

No quarantine for China, Australia's Victoria state travellers

Move comes as border restrictions ease, visitors must pass Covid-19 test on arrival

Travellers from China and Australia's state of Victoria will be allowed to fly into Singapore from next Friday without the need for quarantine, provided they pass a Covid-19 test on arrival.

The unilateral move comes as the Republic continues to ease its border restrictions cautiously, and does not change the curbs imposed in China and Australia on travellers from Singapore.

For example, tourists are not allowed into the two countries.

The move is significant for Singapore and its aviation sector, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung told The Straits Times in an exclusive interview.

Singapore already has similar arrangements for travellers from Brunei, New Zealand, Vietnam and all other parts of Australia.

The Republic also has reciprocal green lanes for essential business and official travel with several countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia and Germany.

HONG KONG

An air travel bubble with Hong Kong that will allow leisure travellers from both sides to visit without the need to be quarantined is expected to take off next month.

Announcing the latest initiative yesterday, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said China and Victoria have comprehensive public health surveillance systems and had successfully controlled the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

"The risk of importation from these places is low," said CAAS.

Mr Ong said while he does not expect the number of visitors from China and Victoria to be high, the easing is significant.

Addressing concerns that reopening the borders increases the risk of importing Covid-19 cases, Mr Ong noted that so far, about 600 travellers have come in through the unilateral air travel arrangements. None have tested positive upon arrival.

Still, Singapore is careful about who to lift the barrier for and takes a "hard-nosed assessment" of the virus control measures and effectiveness in other countries and places, he added.

The minister said: "I look at the top line (case numbers) every day."

But even that is not good enough, he stressed, because the numbers also depend on how much testing is done.

"So we listen to our healthcare professionals in MOH (Ministry of Health) and they do a very thorough assessment of the whole epidemic response in these places," he said.

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TOURISM & TRAVEL