Singapore to start quarantine-free travel for visitors from Hong Kong, Brunei and Germany

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A Singapore Airlines plane is parked beside Scoots passenger planes on the terminal tarmac at Changi International Airport in Singapore on March 15, 2021.
Roslan Rahman | AFP | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Singapore is reopening its borders to more destinations, and some travelers from Hong Kong, Macao, Germany and Brunei will soon be able to enter without having to serve quarantine.

The city-state announced the lifting of border restrictions for visitors from Hong Kong and Macao, who can apply for entry immediately and enter Singapore as soon as Aug. 26, according to Transport Minister S. Iswaran.

Singapore will also be opening a so-called vaccinated travel lane with Germany and Brunei in September, the national aviation authority said in a release. It means Singaporeans can travel to Germany and Brunei, while visitors from those countries can travel to Singapore without quarantine, if the conditions are met.

“As an open and small economy, our connectivity with the rest of the world is essential, if not existential. That is why we need to start reopening,” Iswaran said at a press briefing. “The longer our borders remain closed, the greater the risk of lasting damage to our economy, our livelihoods and our status as an aviation hub.”

Singapore has unilaterally opened its borders to travelers from Taiwan, New Zealand and most visitors from mainland China. The Southeast Asian country closed its borders to Australia and Vietnam after a resurgence of the virus there.

Hong Kong and Macao

Travelers from Hong Kong and Macao, regardless of vaccination status, can now apply for an air travel pass to enter Singapore.

They will need to take a Covid-19 test when they arrive in Singapore, and self-isolate until they receive a negative test result. There will be no need to serve quarantine.

Visitors need to have spent the last 21 consecutive days in Hong Kong or Macao before traveling to Singapore.

This arrangement is unilateral, which means people traveling from Singapore to Hong Kong or Macao will be subject to the rules of each destination.

For example, Singapore is classified as a medium-risk country in Hong Kong, and people arriving from Singapore will have to be quarantined for 7 days to 21 days, depending on their vaccination status, among other factors.

Germany and Brunei

Singapore’s arrangement with Germany and Brunei allows only fully vaccinated travelers to skip quarantines. They will have to take four Covid tests — one two days before departure, one upon arrival, one on day three and another on day seven.

If successfully launched in September, this will be Singapore’s first bilateral travel arrangement. The country postponed its travel bubble with Hong Kong twice because of rising Covid cases.

Applications to travel to Germany or Brunei open on Sept. 1, and conditions include:

  • Traveling on designated, non-stop flights for the vaccinated travel lane (VTL);
  • Remaining in Singapore, Germany or Brunei for 21 consecutive days before the flight;
  • Downloading a contact tracing app in Singapore.

The arrangement is a “welcome move and seems to be justified in light of Singapore’s successful vaccination campaign,” said German Ambassador to Singapore, Norbert Riedel.

“We are confident that those individuals travelling under the VTL scheme will show the necessary self-discipline and self-responsibility by adhering to the necessary testing requirements,” he said in a press statement.

Iswaran said at the virtual press briefing, “The vaccinated travel lanes with Germany and Brunei mark a measured start to the resumption of air travel with an essential set of safeguards. We have chosen to start with these two countries based on overall risk and operational assessments.”

Around 57% of Germany’s population has been fully vaccinated, compared to 71.3% of Singapore’s population, according to Our World in Data. Only 11.9% of Brunei’s population is fully vaccinated.

“Our higher population vaccination rates now give us the foundation to introduce vaccination-differentiated border measures for travelers from countries/regions that have controlled the pandemic well and also vaccinated large parts of their population,” Singapore’s health ministry in a press release.

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