Not to dangle the carrot when so many of us are still in lockdown, but yes… the Singapore government has announced it’s looking to allow quarantine-free travel from as early as September 2021, reopening borders for the first time in over a year, and establishing travel corridors / bubbles with countries or regions where COVID-19 is actually under control.
“The easing will be differentiated and extended to only vaccinated persons, because they are much better protected against the effects of the virus,” states Lawrence Wong, Singapore Finance Minister.
“If you want to go out to dine in the restaurant or workout in the gym, you have to be fully vaccinated.”
By September, the city-state has projected it will be 80% vaccinated. Currently, more than half of the domestic population has received both doses of either Pfizer or Moderna, with an even larger 75% of Singaporeans who have received their first dose (the world’s second-highest rate behind United Arab Emirates, according to Reuters).
“While other countries may have come to terms with a certain level of COVID-19 cases and even deaths, this is not the choice we want to make in Singapore.”
“At the same time, there is no need to wait for everyone to be vaccinated before we begin to open up. That would mean holding back the entire reopening timeline until much later in the year, which is not tenable.”
Of course, this doesn’t exactly mean travel will resemble what it did pre-2020. Certain social distancing measures will remain in place, adds Wong, i.e. no mask mandate for outdoors but required for indoor and enclosed environments.
The prospect of quarantine-free travel to Singapore may be the glimmer of hope we need to weather the bleak reality at present, though there’s still plenty of work to be done in the meantime, and plenty of progress that needs to be seen during the interim.
Just last week, the island re-introduced restrictions to curb a rise in cases. On the Australian front, although Victoria will once again be tasting freedom as of today thanks to some decisive action, here in New South Wales – specifically Sydney – we’re looking at the polar opposite outcome.