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Singapore opens ‘travel bubble’ for New Zealanders

Singapore opens ‘travel bubble’ for New Zealanders
August 24, 2020

The Government of Singapore is to allow quarantine-free travel from New Zealand, based on a recognition that the country has the Coronavirus under control.

Under a new system to be introduced by Singapore's Government from next month, New Zealanders will be able to enter the city state via a 'green lane' travel bubble - an early example of how such systems will work in the future.

With Singapore keen to encourage business and holiday travel, free movement from New Zealand -along with the nearby nation of Brunei - will commence from 1st September.

Visitors from New Zealand and Brunei will need to apply for a special 'air travel pass' - applications for which will open on 1st September - between seven and 30 days before their intended date of arrival into Singapore.

They'll have to a COVID-19 test on arrival at Changi Airport and be required to self-isolate until they receive a negative test result, but otherwise will not have to stay in quarantine upon arrival in Singapore, provided they have remained in the country for the last consecutive 14 days prior to their visit to Singapore.

However, they will be responsible for any medical bills should they require medical treatment for COVID-19 while in Singapore.

Introducing the scheme, Singapore Education Minister, Lawrence Wong advised “we know that some places have been able to control the infection effectively, and the risk of importation is low.

"Our assessment is that there is no need for a stay-home notice requirement for travellers from these low risk places, and a Covid-19 test will be sufficient."

The quarantine period for visitors from Australia (excluding Victoria), Macau, mainland China, Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia will be shortened from the current 14 days to seven days.

New Zealanders will still be required to quarantine on their return home while the new travel arrangement is currently unilateral, as the New Zealand border remains closed to almost all foreigners except citizens and residents.

New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade imposed a worldwide ‘do not travel’ notice for all New Zealanders in March. Unless an exemption is made for Singapore, travel insurance will be difficult to obtain.

The co-chair of the New Zealand aviation coalition, Justin Tighe-Umbers, said the move by Singapore was indicative of what was starting to happen around the world.

Tighe-Umbers pointed to rapid testing regimes, like those in Dubai and at London's Heathrow Airport, which would mean passengers did not need to quarantine after returning a negative test.

He explained “New Zealand will lose international connectivity with airlines pulling out unless it keeps abreast of what its competitors are doing and considers the implications.”

Image: Singapore's Marina Bay Sands resort.

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