Singapore is looking to expand its vaccinated travel lane initiative in order to send a message to the rest of the world that it is serious about reopening.
Following the commencement next month of vaccinated tourists from Germany and Brunei, the city-state would “work from there to identify which countries and how we can go about it,” Minister of Transport S. Iswaran told Bloomberg on Friday.
“We’ve calibrated it tightly in terms of designated flights, but the intention really is to do this well so that we can then scale up,” Iswaran said. “This is a critical process to make sure that all parties understand what is required of them including the travellers, and they’re able to comply and meet the requirements.”
Singapore announced on Thursday that vaccinated visitors from Germany and Brunei will be able to enter the country starting Sept. 8 without having to go through quarantine and without having to have a specific reason for visiting or follow a strict schedule. Because Germany is already welcoming visitors from the city-state, this effectively kicks off the first intercontinental travel bubble for the island nation.
While Iswaran would not say how many or which nations Singapore is talking to, he did call the move a “signal to the rest of the globe.”
“Essentially we are signalling a path towards reopening,” Iswaran said. “Is it something that is foolproof? We don’t know. But we are doing everything we can to start to forge that path back to restoring travel, restoring connectivity, because that is going to be an essential part of business.”
Monitoring Imported Cases
Singapore has suggested that it is moving away from the so-called Covid Zero policy for eradicating the infection. While other countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, have largely locked down their borders in order to limit transmission in under-vaccinated populations, Singapore is gradually lifting restrictions.
The government has room to reopen its borders now that roughly 80% of its population has been adequately immunized. The number of imported cases will be continuously monitored to ensure that the protocols put in place for vaccinated travel arrangements operate, according to Iswaran, who added that “the higher the faithfulness to the protocols, the better the probability of success.” Singapore has fully vaccinated 78 percent of its people, making it one of the world’s best immunization rates.
As for when life may go back to normal and travel will be as free as it was in 2019 however, Iswaran isn’t offering any timeline.
“I don’t like looking into crystal balls because I get tired of eating crushed glass,” he joked, adding “I think it’s too difficult to call.”
“Our own analysis is that the sooner we learn how to live with Covid, the sooner we will be able to adjust our protocols, our processes to return to normalcy as much as possible,” he said. “If we don’t do that and if we’re waiting for an eradication type of approach it might not be possible given the way the virus is mutating.”
Source: Yahoo News