Bali to be reopened in June under a travel corridor

Bali to be reopened in June under a travel corridor

Foreign tourists may be able to visit Bali again as soon as June under a travel corridor program to help revive the economy.

The travel corridor arrangement will be offered to countries that are deemed successful in their vaccination programs.

And to those able to contain the spread of the coronavirus, and could offer reciprocal benefits, Mr. Uno said in a statement.

Ubud, Sanur, and Nusa Dua are major holiday spots in Bali that are included in a pilot project to begin receiving foreign travelers in mid-June.

Of course, this under strict health protocols, said Mr. Uno.

As many as two million Bali residents will have to be vaccinated before the pilot project can start.

South-east Asia’s largest economy has started to ease restrictions to spur household spending after gross domestic product shrank last year for the first time in two decades due to the pandemic.

Covid-19 has so far infected more than 1.4 million Indonesians in the past year and killed almost 39,000 people in the country.

The government may allow a chartered flight to bring in overseas travelers under the pilot project, which will be closely monitored and evaluated every two weeks, said Mr. Uno.

Open Bali is not the only project

The Indonesian province closest to Singapore, the Riau Islands, including Batam and Bintan, is the area readiest to reopen to tourists from neighboring countries as coronavirus infections have declined and stabilized, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno has said.

The plan is to start reopening tourist spots in Nongsa (Batam) and Lagoi (Bintan) on April 21, ahead of the country’s main tourist spot Bali, which is expected to reopen only in June or July, the minister said after a meeting with Batam officials on Saturday (March 20).

“Batam and Bintan are far more ready,” he said.

Reopening the Riau Islands would pave the way for Indonesia to have a possible “safe travel corridor” with Singapore, Mr Uno stressed.

Source: The Straits Times

Australia and Singapore in talks About travel bubble

Australia and Singapore in talks About travel bubble

Australia and Singapore are in talks on a possible travel bubble that will allow residents to travel between both countries without having to quarantine, Singapore confirmed on Sunday (Mar 14).

The two countries are also in discussions on the mutual recognition of vaccination certificates and resuming travel with priority for students and business travelers, Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in response to media queries.

“Australia is a key partner of Singapore in the region. We are in discussions on how to cooperate in opening our economies safely, taking into consideration the COVID-19 situation in both countries,” it said. 

Both countries have been able to keep the COVID-19 pandemic under control, MFA added.

Discussions on a possible Australia – Singapore travel bubble were reported by the Sydney Morning Herald earlier on Sunday.

The report said it could be possible for people from other countries to enter Australia via Singapore after completing two weeks’ quarantine in Singapore.

MFA said the two countries are not in talks on a quarantine center or vaccination hub.

“Australian nationals can transit via Singapore without quarantining to return home if they travel on approved transit routes and if they comply with our public health protocols while in transit,” it said.

What does the Trade Minister of Australia say?

Sydney Morning Herald also cited Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan as saying he had held discussions with his Singapore counterpart Chan Chun Sing about a travel bubble.

It quoted Mr. Tehan as saying that Singapore is keen to work with Australia on a vaccination certificate and that both ministers agreed to work together on this.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said Australia was “working with Singapore at the moment potentially for a bubble (beginning) in July”.

“As the vaccine rolls out, not only in Australia but in other countries, we will reopen more bubbles,” he told public broadcaster ABC.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce in Singapore welcomed the talks on a possible travel corridor.

“This is great news for business and for Singaporeans and Australians alike,” the chamber’s president Chris Coburn told CNA.

Source: Channel News Asia

Postponed travel bubble of Singapore and Hong Kong

Postponed travel bubble of Singapore and Hong Kong

Singapore said it’s in “close discussions” with Hong Kong over a postponed travel bubble.

“We will announce more details when ready,” Daniel Ng, director of air transport at the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, said in an emailed reply to questions.

The South China Morning Post reported Saturday that both cities are mulling extra safeguard measures for such an arrangement, adding that it’s still too early to say when it would begin.

The Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble, originally slated to begin in November last year, was postponed after a surge of new coronavirus infections in Hong Kong.

When the plan was put on hold, Hong Kong’s rolling seven-day average of unlinked cases was 3.86.

It shot up to 16 by the end of November and continued to remain above the stated threshold.

But in the past week, the figure dipped below five. It stood at 4.57 as of Friday.

Dr. Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious diseases specialist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, said it would be safe to start the air travel bubble if the number of unlinked cases remains below five consistently for two to three weeks.

This is taking into account that the incubation period of the virus has been lengthened to almost 21 days, he added.

“As an added precaution, they should ask the individual to be vaccinated. The incentive then should be no Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing will be done,” Dr. Leong added.

“Vaccination of travelers can expedite the formation of travel bubbles in a safe manner.”

What other experts think about the travel bubble?

Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said last month that he would rather not set a target on when the air travel bubble can begin.

Under the original arrangement, people traveling between Singapore and Hong Kong can avoid a lengthy quarantine by taking multiple Covid-19 tests.

Both sides agreed to have one flight a day into each city and a quota of 200 travelers per flight.

There were no restrictions on the purpose of travel, and no need for a controlled itinerary.

But travelers are required to meet eligibility criteria, such as staying in either city for 14 consecutive days prior to departure and adhere to border control measures and public health requirements of both cities.

While Hong Kong had imposed stricter restrictions in the past few months, it relaxed social distancing rules in the past week, for the first time since November.

Source: The Star

Segregated travel lane to be launch in Singapore

Segregated travel lane to be launch in Singapore

Singapore will launch a new segregated travel lane aimed at business travelers on short-term stays, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing announced on Tuesday (Dec 15).  

The travel lane, or the Connect@Singapore initiative, will be open to a “limited number” of business, official, and high economic value travelers from all countries who are staying in Singapore for up to 14 days, said the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) in a separate press release. 

Applications for the segregated travel lane will open in the middle of January 2021, and Singapore can expect the first travelers to arrive from the second half of January, it added.

“Global travel, especially global business travel has been severely impacted by the need for quarantine measures, and many people in different countries cannot meet each other for business activities, said Mr. Chan in an online media conference.

“The idea is for business people to come into Singapore for up to a period of 14 days. During these 14 days, they will undergo the necessary routine medical checks to provide themselves the assurance that they are safe and also to provide the assurance to their meeting partners that they are safe.”

How will the segregated travel lane be?

For their whole stay, travelers under the segregated travel lane will be housed within dedicated facilities, undergo regular testing, and observe all prevailing safe management measures, said MTI.

The travelers will have to stay within their pre-declared travel group of up to five travelers within the segregated facility and are not allowed to mingle with other travelers. They will also have to abide by all prevailing national safe management measures, and use Trace Together and Safe Entry. 

At the segregated facilities, the travelers will be able to conduct meetings with local visitors and with other traveler groups with safe management measures in place to separate segregated travel lane travelers from other individuals, said MTI.

“For example, while travelers will be allowed to meet with local visitors, there will be floor-to-ceiling dividers separating travelers from local visitors,” the ministry added. 

Travelers will also have to present a valid negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test before leaving their home country and take another PCR test after arriving in Singapore. 

While in Singapore, they will take antigen rapid tests on days 3, 5, 7, and 11 after their arrival while they stay in Singapore. 

Source: Channel News Asia

TraceTogether app will be upgraded for tourists

TraceTogether app will be upgraded for tourists

Contact tracing app TraceTogether will be upgraded by next month to allow tourists to do SafeEntry check-ins at shopping malls and dining venues as Singapore gets ready to move to phase three of its reopening. –

The app, which is mandatory for overseas visitors, will come with a new feature to record and validate their passport numbers during app registration. Validation will be instant by checking against the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority’s database.

“Just as we need to validate users’ NRIC (during app sign-up), we need to check that the visitor has entered a valid passport number and that he has indeed entered Singapore,” a spokesman for the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office said.

With this addition, tourists will be able to scan the SafeEntry QR code using their TraceTogether app. By the end of the year, this will be the only way for them to enter most premises.

The TraceTogether app so far for the tourists?

In the absence of the QR code scanner, tourists have been asked to show their passports and the TraceTogether app on their phones. Venue operators also need to manually enter passport details in a computer or a mobile device running the SafeEntry (Business) application to record the visit.

Tourists have also been able to use their mobile phone camera to scan the SafeEntry QR code to fill up a Web form to enter malls, restaurants, and cinemas.

But the Webform will be phased out when Singapore switches to a new Covid-19 management tool, TraceTogether only SafeEntry, for mandatory digital contact tracing.

Similarly, Singaporeans and permanent residents will not be able to use their SingPass mobile app to scan the SafeEntry QR code to enter places. And venue operators will not scan barcodes on NRICs to allow people entry.

The nationwide switchover is slated to start at the end of the year to allow Singapore to host more travelers, business activities, and social gatherings.

TraceTogether only SafeEntry combines what are now two separate systems: TraceTogether, to identify those in close contact with Covid-19 patients; and SafeEntry – which digitally checks in visitors at most venues – to determine which premises have been visited by those infected with the coronavirus.

Young woman traveler traveling into The Masjid Sultan mosque located in Kampong Glam in Singapore city.

STB announce tourism collaboration with Hong Kong

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is collaborating with its counterpart in Hong Kong to offer joint promotional activities to welcome the launch of the air travel bubble between the two destinations.

The partnership launched ahead of the first flights on Nov 22, “demonstrates the close ties between the two destinations as well as a mutual commitment to provide visitors with a safe travel experience”, STB said in a joint announcement with the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) on Wednesday.

Travelers under the air travel bubble will have to take dedicated flights – with a maximum of 200 passengers each way – but will have no restrictions on their travel purpose and do not have to follow a controlled itinerary. 

Details about the STB and the HKTB collaboration

The chief executive Keith Tan said with Singapore’s “strong track record, we are confident that Hong Kong travelers can explore Singapore with a peace of mind”.

HKTB’s CEO Dane Cheng similarly expressed confidence that the territory is ready to welcome visitors.

“Thanks to the united efforts of people in different sectors in stepping up their hygiene measures, we are confident Hong Kong is clean and ready to welcome visitors back,” he said.  

With the resumption of travel between Singapore and Hong Kong, the health and safety of locals and travelers “remain a key priority”, STB and HKTB said.

“Singapore’s SG Clean is a national mark of excellence awarded to businesses across Singapore – including tourism establishments – that meet its high standards of hygiene and sanitization. Meanwhile, the HKTB has rolled out the Anti-Epidemic Hygiene Measures Certification Scheme to ensure that every touchpoint of visitors’ journey is covered with anti-epidemic measures.”

As part of the partnership, the two tourism boards will also undertake joint promotional activities.

The first batch of visitors can look forward to special gifts, such as limited edition face masks that “showcase unique aspects of both cities”, STB and HKTB said.

Travelers flying on the first air travel bubble flights out of both cities on Nov 22 will also be treated to a special in-flight menu that includes local favorites from Singapore and Hong Kong. The menu, curated by Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific, will be available on all air travel bubble flights until the end of the year.

Teenager in a mall or airport

Germany to start a green lane with Singapore

Singapore and Germany agree to set up a green lane for essential business and official travel

Residents in Singapore and Germany may soon be able to travel between the two countries for essential business and official purposes after both sides agreed to establish a reciprocal green lane. 

This was announced in a joint press statement on Friday by the foreign affairs ministries of Singapore and Germany.

“The reciprocal green lane will enable essential travel for business or official purposes, via direct flights between Germany and Singapore,” said the statement. 

Eligible applicants will have to abide by the COVID-19 prevention and public health measures mutually agreed by both countries, it added. 

Germany and Singapore authorities also said that the green lane could serve as a model for future similar arrangements between Singapore and other European countries.

Operational details of the green lane, including the procedural requirements, health protocols, and application process, will be announced at a later date. 

Green lanes prior to Germany

Green lanes and air travel bubbles with countries whose COVID-19 infection rates are low have been in the plans of reviving the Singaporean economy.

Germany joins Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand, and Brunei as the countries that Singapore has unilaterally opened its borders to, as the country bids to revive its tourism and travel markets.

This has allowed essential business and official travel between the countries. It also has helped restore connectivity and support economic recovery. All the necessary public health safeguards have been taken.

Eligible travelers will have to abide by the mutually agreed terms and prevailing public health measures in the countries.

These short-term visitors must comply with the conditions of the pass. These include undergoing a Covid-19 test upon arrival at the airport instead of serving a stay-home notice, as well as downloading the TraceTogether mobile application for their entire period of stay.

Source: Today Online.

Asian businessman wearing suit and face mask sitting on bench with his suitcase luggage in airport terminal. Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak prevention. Health awareness for pandemic protection

Hong Kong travelers need to serve a stay-home notice in Singapore

From next Thursday, travelers from Hong Kong coming to Singapore need only to serve a seven-day stay-home notice in their place of residence instead of two weeks at a dedicated facility, said the Ministry of Health.

This means Hong Kong joins a list of low-risk countries and regions such as mainland China, Macau, Taiwan, and most parts of Malaysia, where travelers from these places are mandated to serve a seven-day stay-home notice period at their residences in Singapore after their arrival.

The authorities also said that, from Oct 15 onwards, people with recent travel history to Sabah, Malaysia will be required to serve a two-week stay-home notice at a dedicated facility here due to the recent increase in cases there.

This will also apply to return Singapore-based travelers under the reciprocal green lane agreements with Malaysia as well as Malaysian citizens and permanent residents entering Singapore under the Periodic Commuting Arrangement.

However, this new two-week stay-home notice rule will not apply to Malaysia-based travelers under the green lanes. They will continue to be subject to existing green-lane health measures, such as a pre-departure test, on-arrival test, and keeping to a pre-declared controlled itinerary.

MOH said: “For now, travelers from all other parts of Malaysia, except Sabah, will continue to serve a seven-day stay-home notice at their place of residence.

Different measures besides the stay-home notice

At the moment, travelers from Australia (excluding Victoria State), Brunei, New Zealand, and Vietnam need to undergo a Covid-19 test upon arrival instead of serving a stay-home notice. Singapore has updated a travel advisory to allow general travel to these countries.

 “Singapore’s border measures will evolve as the global situation changes. We will continue to monitor the global health situation closely and update our border measures in accordance with the public health risk assessment,” MOH said.

Source: Today Online

Woman waiting in a long line for a flight wearing a N95 face mask during a global pandemic

Australia and Vietnam’s travel will be allowed in Singapore from Oct 8

Singapore will unilaterally lift border restrictions to visitors from Australia – excluding Victoria state – and Vietnam from Oct 8.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) announced that these two countries both have comprehensive public health surveillance systems and have successfully controlled the spread of the Covid-19.

“The risk of importation from these countries is low,” said the authority, noting that over the last 28 days, Vietnam had zero local Covid-19 cases while Australia (excluding Victoria state) had a low virus incidence rate of 0.02 cases per 100,000 people.

Visitors from Australia and Vietnam will be able to apply for the Air Travel Pass for entry into Singapore from Thursday. The earliest day they will be able to come into Singapore will be Oct 8.

The Air Travel Pass scheme allows for all forms of short-term travel, including leisure travel. This is in contrast to reciprocal green lane arrangements between countries, which are usually for essential business and official travel.

Visitors will have to take a swab test upon arrival and can go about their activities after they get a negative test result. They will have to use the TraceTogether app for the duration of their stay here, among other conditions.

Australia and Vietnam join other countries

Australia and Vietnam countries join New Zealand and Brunei as the four countries that Singapore has unilaterally opened its borders to, as the country bids to revive its tourism and travel markets.

Since border restrictions to visitors from Brunei and New Zealand were lifted on Sept 8, CAAS has approved 331 applications from travelers from the two countries.

As of 5 pm on Wednesday, 136 visitors have arrived so far. None of them tested positive upon arrival and have been intruded about all the protocols and country’s measures, so they can easily adapt during their stay.

People traveling by plane during COVID 19, wearing N95 face masks, carrying luggage in airport terminal.

Residence track for travels between Singapore and Japan

Singapore and Japan have launched a residence track for essential travel between the two countries by businesspeople who are work-pass holders, the Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a press statement last Friday.

The residence track will enable the movement of “business executives and business professionals who are work-pass holders”, with the necessary public health safeguards in place, MFA said.

Those interested in the scheme may file their applications from next Wednesday (Sept 30).

Singapore and Japan have been in talks on the residence track since July.

This residence track comes on top of an existing business track, or reciprocal green (or fast) lane, between the two countries that started on Sept 18, paving the way for short-term essential business and official travel between Singapore and Japan.

Other residence track or fast lane

Since September 1, Singapore relaxed its measures and has allowed general travel to Brunei and New Zealand, including students studying abroad.

In addition to this, Since September 4, a fast-lane started between Singapore and South Korea. This has allowed essential business and official travel between the two countries.

It also has helped restore connectivity and support economic recovery. All the necessary public health safeguards have been taken.

Besides this, Singapore is in negotiations of a possible air traffic bubble with Malaysia.

Malaysian Transport Minister said that the closely-linked business communities in both Singapore and Malaysia urgently need to be able to commute back and forth soon, with stringent standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place.

Singapore and Malaysia’s health authorities “will be speaking soon to iron out the agreements on the SOPs and move forward”, he added in a Facebook post on Tuesday night.

All these special arrangements have been done in order of economic recovery of the country, due to the crisis it faces because of the COVID-19 pandemic.