SINGAPORE — Singapore and Australia are discussing the resumption of two-way travel in a safe and calibrated manner starting with an air-travel bubble amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the leaders of both countries said on Thursday (10 June).
Singapore Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong and Australian PM Scott Morrison made the announcement at the Istana after their annual Leaders’ Meeting, which was established under the Singapore-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
Prior to the pandemic, many Singaporeans had traveled to Australia for business, holidays, and further education, and vice versa, Lee said. Both countries need to resume these people-to-people flows to maintain their close and excellent bilateral relationship, he added.
Towards this goal, both countries will prepare the infrastructure and processes to get ready for travel to resume.
“And it starts with mutual recognition of health and vaccination certificates, possibly in a digital form, very likely, and when all the preparations are ready, then we can start small with an air travel bubble to build confidence on both sides,” Lee said.
Morrison said he welcomed the cooperation between Australia and Singapore to work towards putting such systems in place to enable an air travel bubble. This would be similar to how Australia and New Zealand have opened up travel between both sides, he added.
While there is still some time before Singapore and Australia can reach the travel milestone, Morrison said the priority will be for students from Singapore who are pursuing their studies in Australia.
“In addition to that, as we have discussed, Prime Minister (Lee), giving a priority to students from Singapore to be able to return to Australia to complete their studies and to engage in their studies, and for the students from Singapore to be (given) a first opportunity to see increased travel between Australia and Singapore realised, and for that to occur sooner rather than later,” Morrison added.
Lee and Morrison also issued a joint statement to welcome new initiatives under the two countries’ partnership including on low emissions in maritime and shipping, an Australia-Singapore FinTech Bridge, and separate MOUs on cooperation on healthcare and health technologies, partnership between homeland security and law enforcement agencies of both countries, and between Singapore Symphony Orchestra and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
The Leaders’ Meeting is for the PMs of both countries to meet to discuss bilateral cooperation and exchange views on regional and international developments. The last such meeting was held virtually in March 2020 due to the pandemic.
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