The prime ministers of Singapore and Australia said on Thursday (10 June) that the two countries will begin talks about opening a so-called “travel bubble” between the two nations once conditions permit in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he hoped Singaporean students who study in Australia would be some of the first beneficiaries of any travel lane opened between the two countries. Both prime ministers were speaking as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was visiting the island nation on his way to the G7 summit in the UK.
At a joint press conference after their meeting, Lee said they discussed the fight against COVID-19 and resuming travel between the two countries. “We discussed how two-way travel between Singapore and Australia can eventually resume, in a safe and calibrated manner, when both sides are ready,” he said. Lee added that there is a need to prepare the infrastructure and processes for such travel. “And it starts with mutual recognition of health and vaccination certificates, possibly in a digital form. When all the preparations are ready, then we can start small with an air travel bubble to build confidence on both sides.”
Morrison said it would be a while before Singapore and Australia can open up the air travel bubble. “We really do want to focus on those students coming, as a first wave, a first tranche, as part of the exercise of piloting how these systems can work most effectively when we get to the next phase,” Morrison said.
Government officials from both sides are discussing the air travel bubble and mutually recognising health and vaccination certificates, as well as preparing the pre-conditions and infrastructure for such an arrangement.