Singapore recently stated aims of offering some level of quarantine free travel by September. The country is now on track, with its first official ‘pilot travel’ plan.
Germany and Brunei will become the first ‘pilot’ countries for quarantine free entry to Singapore, without a reason, allowing fully vaccinated visitors to travel once again.
It’s huge news for potential travel plans to Southeast Asia, as Singapore looks to open more widely — and perhaps make the case for more of Asia to do so too.
Singapore Pilots Quarantine Free Leisure Travel
Singapore’s aims for reopening travel initially focused on business activity. The country remains eager to cement its place as the primary banking and investment capital of Asia, so getting lucrative business travelers back first, makes considerable sense.
But in a surprise twist, all travel without a “permitted reason” is being trialled from Germany, as well as Brunei. Similar trials are set for Hong Kong and Macau. The news provides the first opportunity for Europeans to visit Singapore without quarantine or supervision, since the beginning of the global pandemic.
The city-state showcased a bold plan over the summer, which broke from most strategies in the region, dead set on pursuing “zero covid-19.” Instead, Singapore plans to focus on key metrics of any endemic illness, such as hospitalization and death, and fully expects visitors could likely bring modest rises to case counts.
According to Bloomberg, “travelers from Germany and Brunei can enter Singapore from Sept. 8 without the need to have a purpose for visiting and controlled itinerary or sponsor requirements, officials said during a press briefing in the city-state Thursday.”
Singapore Airlines is stepping up direct flights from German cities in response to the news, in a major boost to the airline which launched the trend of flights to nowhere.
Vaccinated travelers will be able to use the ‘VTL’, which signifies the vaccinated travel lane. Visitors from Canada, Australia and South Korea would be enter with just 7 days of home quarantine from Aug 26, and all unvaccinated visitors from Germany would be subject to the same conditions of entry.
Family Travel May Be Impossible
Singapore, for now, isn’t allowing anyone whose unvaccinated into the country using the ‘VTL’ system from most countries.
This means families traveling with unvaccinated children would be persona non-grata, which presents an impasse in countries where most youths are ineligible to receive vaccination.
Many countries are now exploring the merits of vaccinating children 16 and under, or 12 and under, depending on current cutoffs, but until more is known, planning family travel with unvaccinated children is effectively off the table.
Is Asia Preparing To Reopen?
First, it was Thailand with ‘quarantine free’ travel, with the caveated that all visitors via the program are stranded on islands. Now, Singapore is coming to the forefront, with a clear and concise pilot plan, which could rapidly include more countries, if all goes well.
Indonesia is quickly ramping up vaccinations, in hopes of getting tourism hotspots such as Bali back open in time for peak season. Japan plans to have more than 60% of its population vaccinated by October, creating hope that similar pilot travel programs may soon be announced.
Hong Kong, at the behest of China, appears to be pursuing a zero covid-19 strategy, which could limit any plans to open. The pursuit of zero caused Singapore to disband plans for a reciprocal ‘travel bubble’. It appears Hong Kong’s loss, is Germany’s gain.
Perhaps, with many more countries to follow. Stay up to date on the latest Singapore travel developments.