Travel Bubbles Australia | Discussions to open travel with Singapore, New Zealand, Fiji, Japan and South Korea
This month, Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack told ABC News the Government is working with Singapore on a plan to create an Australia-Singapore Travel Bubble, which could start from as early as July 2021.
Encouraging news also emerged for a Travel Bubble with New Zealand (NZ), with agreements between Australia and NZ in final stages. Australia’s emergency biosecurity laws have now been amended to allow people in Australia to travel to NZ without having to apply for an Outbound Travel Exemption.
Read on to find out more about Travel Bubble plans with Australia.
How could the Australia-Singapore Travel Bubble Work?
If agreed, here’s how the proposed travel bubble could operate:
- Australians could travel to Singapore for work or leisure without needing a travel exemption if they have been vaccinated for COVID-19
- Singaporean nationals who have been vaccinated for COVID-19 could travel to Australia for work, study or holidays without having to quarantine for two weeks (or possibly quarantine just for a week, subject to health advice)
- Australian nationals could transit via Singapore (without having to quarantine) if they return home via Singapore on approved transit routes
Will Singapore become a ‘quarantine gateway’?
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the Government also proposed options for Singapore to act as a ‘quarantine gateway’. This would allow people from other countries to enter Australia after they have quarantined for two weeks in Singapore.
However, last week Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement that clarified, “We are not in discussion on the concept of a quarantine centre or vaccination hub.”
Instead, it confirmed discussions were focused on how travel between Singapore and Australia could resume, with priority for students and business travellers.
Will proof of COVID-19 vaccination be required to travel?
At this stage, it seems proof of vaccination will be required to travel between the two countries.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Trade Minister, Dan Tehan is keen to work with his Singaporean counterpart Chan Chan Sing to develop a proof of vaccination certificate in coming months.
Should the Travel Bubble begin in July 2021, it could possibly start with one-way travel from Singapore to Australia followed by two-way travel from October 2021 when Australia’s vaccine rollout program is expected to be completed.
What about the Australia-New Zealand Travel Bubble?
Today, 22 March 2021, Health Minister, Greg Hunt paved the way for a two-way Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble to begin as soon as a governing framework is agreed and finalised with NZ.
Mr Hunt has now amended Australia’s emergency biosecurity laws to allow anyone who has been in Australia for at least 14 days to travel directly to NZ for any reason.
Previously, Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents required an Outbound Travel Exemption to travel to NZ and had to provide evidence of their reasons for travel – for example, for Critical Work or Compassionate circumstances.
An Outbound Travel Exemption is no longer needed to fly from Australia to New Zealand, but travellers do still need to quarantine on arrival in NZ until the Travel Bubble is finalised.
The NZ Cabinet met today to finalise the details, but NZ Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern said in a news conference that more time was needed to finalise the agreement and decide on contact tracing and quarantine facilities.
She did, however confirm, “It is close,” and that she will announce the commencement date on 6 April 2021.
The New Zealand Herald reported earlier this month that the Travel Bubble could start by the end of April 2021 – but later acknowledged it would take at least three weeks for airports and airlines to set up necessary safety precautions and systems.
Here’s what is being discussed:
- The Travel Bubble would open two-way quarantine-free travel between Australia and NZ. Currently, travellers from NZ can come to Australia’s Eastern States, Victoria and New South Wales quarantine-free, but NZ is yet to reciprocate this. Ms Ardern indicated today that the Travel Bubble may open to some Australian states before others.
- Each country would have the right to halt travel as it sees fit. Travellers may be warned there could be a three-day lockdown to assess the situation if they are caught in a COVID-19 cluster area.
- Airports would be divided into ‘green zones’ (for quarantine-free travel) and ‘red zones’ (for travellers from other parts of the world). While this is already in place in Australia, NZ is seeking an agreed set of ‘green zone’ travel rules between the two countries.
Fiji, Japan and South Korea to possibly join the Travel Bubble
A two-way travel bubble with Australia and Singapore, and potentially a three-way travel bubble with Australia, NZ and Singapore would be a significant step in the reopening of Australia’s borders.
Travel Bubbles with other countries are also being explored.
This week, Minister for Trade and Tourism, Dan Tehan flagged that Fiji would also be keen to join a travel bubble with Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.
In addition, Deputy Prime Minister, Mr McCormack touched on the possibility of extending the Australia-Singapore Travel Bubble to South Korea and Japan in the future.
Interstaff Migration Agents | Over 30 years of Australian visa and migration experience
While the news is encouraging, it’s important to note that arrangements are not finalised and many health and logistical factors must be considered.
We are looking forward to keeping you updated. Please get in touch with Interstaff’s Registered Migration Agents if you have any visa or migration concerns – simply contact [email protected] or +61 8 9221 3388.