After more than a year of halting non-essential international travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the prime ministers of both Australia and Singapore have announced on Thursday that they are working towards creating a travel bubble between the two countries.
Discussions of opening a travel bubble between Singapore and Australia were made during the time Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, made a stop-over in Singapore whilst on his way to London to attend the G7 Summit 2021. The possibility of reopening quarantine-free travel mainly stems from both Singapore and Australia avoiding severe coronavirus outbreaks, having just over 62,000 and 30,000 cases reported respectively.
“We discussed how two-way travel between Singapore and Australia can eventually resume, in a safe and calibrated manner, when both sides are ready,” Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a joint statement.
Currently, Singapore has 33% of its population vaccinated while Australia only has 2.6%. Both prime ministers agreed that their countries still would need to reach a certain threshold and requirement before the bubble can take place.
Recently, private-sector economists estimated Singapore’s GDP to expand by 6.5% in the second quarter of the year and the country is on a positive trajectory to continue this rate. Even with the positive predictions, the Singaporean government is looking towards stepping up their testing and contact tracing measures after month-long restrictions were placed after 21 new locally transmitted Covid-19 cases were reported.
The opening of the bubble will make international students a top priority, with Singaporean students able to set foot on campuses in Australia. In addition to the travel bubble proposal, there is a possibility Singapore will serve as a vaccination and quarantine hub for students from other countries to stay at before entering Australia.
Both prime ministers are also starting the discussion on an Australia-Singapore FinTech bridge. This bridge will help facilitate cross-border data exchange and also expand the digital economy, creating more opportunities for collaboration of various projects featuring business, investments, and innovation.
After repeated delay of the Hong Kong-Singapore bubble and the US-UK bubble, many individuals are skeptical of whether the Australia-Singapore bubble will actually take place.
Even with all these exciting announcements, there is “still some time before we reach that milestone,” Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison said.