Come fly with me
News of the potential Singapore-Australia air travel bubble has made holidaymakers hopeful for an international getaway. It has been reported that the two nations are in discussions regarding quarantine-free travel. It will mean a much-welcome increase in tourism for both nations, and opens the way for further travel bubbles with the South Pacific and New Zealand.
When will Singapore open to Australians?
The initial talks are hoping for a July 2021 return to the Lion City. But since October 2020, Singapore has flagged Australia as a “Green Zone”, along with Brunei, New Zealand, Taiwan and China. But Australia’s current travel ban means only citizens of Singapore can return to the country or Australians with an exemption from the Department of Home Affairs.
Do I need to be vaccinated?
It has been reported that the travel bubble will require all visitors from Singapore and Australia to be vaccinated. This might be the first indicator of what international travel might look like for other countries.
While Singapore started vaccinating its population in January, Australia’s rollout is only just beginning, so the bubble will be more beneficial for inward-bound travel.
There are also some complications when it comes to international travel as there is not yet a globally recognised system that provides proof of vaccination.
In saying that, Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs signalled the mutual recognition of digital vaccination certificates as one of the key topics of discussion to get the travel bubble rolling.
What are the conditions of entry into Singapore?
At the moment, there is a fair amount of paperwork required in order to enter Singapore. Visitors must apply for an Air Travel Pass, seven to 30 days before arrival. Three days before departure, visitors have to submit health, travel history and accommodation details via the SG Arrival Card e-Service. Visitors are also required to have travel insurance covering COVID-19 medical treatment, with a minimum coverage of SG$30,000 ($28,780).
Passengers are also required to remain in the city of their departure point for at least 14 days prior to boarding, which eliminates the possibility of travelling on a connecting domestic flight.
Do I have to quarantine in Singapore?
All passengers are required to book accommodation, but only briefly. An Explore reader said she quarantined in a hotel room until she received her COVID test results. Visitors cannot quarantine with relatives or friends, and must book a hotel. They also need to arrange a private transfer or taxi. Any visitors caught catching an Uber, Grab or public transport will be slapped with a SG$1000 ($959) fine.
Do I need to quarantine on return?
All travellers flying into Australia are required to quarantine. The current cost of quarantining in Sydney or Melbourne starts from $3000; Brisbane from $2800; Perth from $2520; and Darwin from $2500.
But with the proposed travel bubble, the idea is that both Singaporeans visiting Australia and Australians visiting Singapore will not be required to quarantine.
Do I need a COVID-19 test before departure and after arrival?
Singapore does not require travellers to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test, but it is compulsory to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on arrival. Travellers must register and pre-pay SG$160 ($153) for the test, but children under the age of six are excluded. Results can take up to 48 hours but Explore’s reader said she received her results in six hours.
Once you receive a negative result, you are free to explore Singapore.
What else is required when I land?
Visitors must install the TraceTogether app on their mobile device. You cannot board your flight to Singapore without showing staff you have installed the app.
What is it like flying to Singapore?
An Explore reader said her Singapore Airlines flight was relatively empty, with roughly only 26 people onboard. Contact between crew and passengers was minimal. She said only one meal was served but there was plenty of inflight entertainment. Don’t expect to find any extra snacks like biscuits or two-minute noodles onboard. Masks are required to be worn throughout the duration of the flight.