Australia Mulls “Travel Bubbles” with Japan, Singapore

After New Zealand, a number of Asian and South Pacific nations could be next in line for reciprocal quarantine-free travel arrangements.

A view of Sydney from the iconic Harbour Bridge. (Photo: Dan Freeman/Unsplash)

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has flagged the prospect of opening up air corridors with three low-risk countries in the Asia-Pacific region, as his government considers arrangements to expand the upcoming trans-Tasman “travel bubble” to neighboring areas in the South Pacific. This morning, he told journalists on 9News’s The Today Show, “We’re having discussions with the Pacific Islanders but we’ve got to be careful, the risk there is that Covid could get into those communities, and they’ve done a fantastic job protecting their communities. But places like Singapore, Japan, South Korea, have all done a tremendous job also, and we’ve had some initial discussions with those countries but I wouldn’t want to raise expectations too high there.”

Morrison made those comments as parts of Australia prepare to welcome visitors from across the Tasman Sea. Starting on October 16, New Zealanders will be allowed to enter New South Wales, Canberra, and the Northern Territory without needing to quarantine, but must then spend two weeks in self-isolation period upon returning home, as Wellington has not yet removed the quarantine requirement for arrivals from Australia.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore is also exploring ways to set up its own bubbles, while pursuing Reciprocal Green Lanes for essential and business travel. Recent weeks have seen the Lion City unilaterally reopening its borders to visitors from Brunei, New Zealand, Vietnam, and all Australian states and territories except for Victoria. Last Tuesday, Singapore’s transport minister Ong Ye Kung said in Parliament that he hoped to begin discussions with Hong Kong on opening up a travel bubble for general travelers.

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