In Asia, Singapore and China have established a ‘fast lane’ for essential business travel or official trips for residents wishing to travel between the two counties. The agreement allows travel between Singapore and six Chinese provinces and municipalities (Chongqing, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Tianjin and Zhejiang).
Mandatory health checks include having to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 48 hours before departure and obtaining a certificate proving individuals tested negative for Covid-19. Passengers coming from China are also required to present a ‘Safe Travel Pass’.
“The arrangement will be gradually expanded to other Chinese provinces and municipalities,” Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Trade and Industry explained.
Thailand is also considering forming travel bubbles with the likes of New Zealand, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Laos, Myanmar, South Korea, Vietnam and some countries in the Middle East, according to a report by the Bangkok Post, with each country adopting health screening measures for arriving visitors.
Indonesia is currently drawing up plans for a travel bubble with China, South Korea, Japan and Australia. “For the initial stage we are opening [our borders] firstly to those four countries, and other countries will follow suit, and of course health protocols will be prioritised,” said Odo Manuhutu, Deputy Co-ordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment.
International students and business travellers in Australia may be able to forego long periods of quarantining when travelling internationally, as would passengers travelling to the country from countries with low rates of Covid-19 infection: in addition to Australia forming a travel bubble with New Zealand, the country is also reportedly considering relaxing quarantining rules with Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea.
“There are two pathways on international [arrivals] – one is to use our quarantine system with international students and appropriately with people who are delivering national benefit, whether it is in business or other areas,” Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said. “Secondly, is where we can have a safe relationship with another country … and New Zealand’s at the top of the list, having a non-quarantine approach which will open up borders.”
The Pacific nations are also soon to be included in the Australia-New Zealand travel bubble. “Pacific countries have done an outstanding job of getting ready for Covid and limiting the spread of it in the Pacific, and many of them are still in lockdown,” said Alex Hawke, Minister for the Pacific. “Prime Minister Morrison and Prime Minister Ardern said once the trans-Tasman bubble is up and running, three to four weeks after, we'll start looking at the Pacific bubble, which is a relatively quick time frame, in my view.”
Meanwhile, German tourists have arrived on their first flight to Spain following the establishment of a safe travel corridor between the two destinations.
Francina Armengol, President of the Balearic Islands, commented: “We will be the first region (in Spain) to open to international tourism under safe conditions.” He added that the Germans had been chosen because of their low death rate during the pandemic and because Germany is the destination from where the majority of Spain’s tourists hail.