Australia, S'pore in talks for possible travel bubble

Singapore: Australia and Singapore are in talks for a possible travel bubble that will allow residents to travel between the two countries without having to quarantine, the Foreign Ministry here confirmed on Sunday.

The two countries are also in discussions on the mutual recognition of COVID-19 vaccination certificates and resuming travel with priority for students and business travellers, the Channel News Asia reported, quoting Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

"Australia is a key partner of Singapore in the region. We are in discussions on how to cooperate in opening our economies safely, taking into consideration the COVID-19 situation in both countries," it said.

Both countries have been able to keep the COVID-19 pandemic under control, the MFA said.

It said the two countries are not in talks on a quarantine centre or vaccination hub.

"Australian nationals can transit via Singapore without quarantining to return home if they travel on approved transit routes and if they comply with our public health protocols while in transit," it said.

The channel reported that it could be possible for people from other countries to enter Australia via Singapore after completing two weeks' quarantine in Singapore.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told BBC that he hoped Singapore would start reopening its borders by the end of the year as more countries ramp up vaccination drives against COVID-19 infections.

Singapore has largely banned leisure travel, but has put in place some business and official travel programmes. It is also discussing the mutual recognition of vaccine certificates with other nations.

"I hope if that many countries can have substantial proportions of their populations vaccinated by later this year, we will be able to have the confidence and to have developed the systems to open up our international borders to travel safely again," Lee said in an interview with BBC on Sunday.

"Hopefully by the end of this year or next year, the doors can start to open, if not earlier," he said.

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