SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): The first flight ferrying passengers from Germany travelling under a quarantine-free scheme has landed at Changi Airport.

SQ325, operated by Singapore Airlines (SIA), touched down at 5.36pm on Wednesday (Sept 8). It departed from Frankfurt at about 10pm local time on Tuesday, or 4am on Wednesday, Singapore time.

The plane was expected to land at Terminal 3 at 4.25pm on Wednesday, but arrived later due to a reroute to avoid Afghan airspace.

SQ325’s landing marks the start of Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme, which is open to Brunei and Germany.

Vaccinated travellers under the scheme will take up to four Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction tests in lieu of quarantine, and have to follow other conditions like taking designated VTL flights to Singapore.

Germany-based aviation journalist Andreas Spaeth, 55, who was on the flight, told The Straits Times he was happy to travel again on an SIA plane, and praised the airline for its service on board.

He was travelling to Singapore as part of a media trip organised by SIA and the Singapore Tourism Board. He had first visited the Republic in 1986.

“It’s very heartening to get a feeling of more normality coming back to travel life being able to go to Singapore again,” he added.

“But I am slightly anxious (over) how easygoing formalities on arrival will be in Changi.”

While Brunei remains closed to leisure travel, Germany has been open to travellers from the Republic since October last year. This means Singapore residents can use the VTL scheme to travel without quarantine in either country.

The VTL’s successful start has brought relief to travel agents and would-be travellers, who had feared the scheme might be derailed, as with the Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble.

The bubble for quarantine-free travel was supposed to launch last November, but was delayed several times on the back of unstable Covid-19 situations in both cities. It was cancelled last month without a single flight taking off.

Steven Ler, president of the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore, said the first VTL flight has been a breakthrough from the unsuccessful air travel bubble with Hong Kong.

He added that the reopening to Germany is a good start for international leisure travel, with travel agents already receiving inquiries for trips to Germany for year-end holidays.

“We hope to see things pick up a lot more, and that will give a lot more confidence to those who are still adopting a wait-and-see approach.”

SINGAPORE – The first flight ferrying passengers from Germany travelling under a quarantine-free scheme has landed at Changi Airport.

SQ325, operated by Singapore Airlines (SIA), touched down at 5.36pm on Wednesday (Sept 8). It departed from Frankfurt at about 10pm local time on Tuesday, or 4am on Wednesday, Singapore time.

The plane was expected to land at Terminal 3 at 4.25pm on Wednesday, but arrived later due to a reroute to avoid Afghan airspace.

SQ325’s landing marks the start of Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme, which is open to Brunei and Germany.

Vaccinated travellers under the scheme will take up to four Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction tests in lieu of quarantine, and have to follow other conditions like taking designated VTL flights to Singapore.

Germany-based aviation journalist Andreas Spaeth, 55, who was on the flight, told The Straits Times he was happy to travel again on an SIA plane, and praised the airline for its service on board.

He was travelling to Singapore as part of a media trip organised by SIA and the Singapore Tourism Board. He had first visited the Republic in 1986.

“It’s very heartening to get a feeling of more normality coming back to travel life being able to go to Singapore again,” he added. “But I am slightly anxious (over) how easygoing formalities on arrival will be in Changi.”

While Brunei remains closed to leisure travel, Germany has been open to travellers from the Republic since October last year. This means Singapore residents can use the VTL scheme to travel without quarantine in either country.

The VTL’s successful start has brought relief to travel agents and would-be travellers, who had feared the scheme might be derailed, as with the Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble.

The bubble for quarantine-free travel was supposed to launch last November, but was delayed several times on the back of unstable Covid-19 situations in both cities. It was cancelled last month without a single flight taking off.


Aviation journalist Andreas Spaeth was one of the passengers on board the first VTL flight from Germany. PHOTO: ANDREAS SPAETH

Mr Steven Ler, president of the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore, said the first VTL flight has been a breakthrough from the unsuccessful air travel bubble with Hong Kong.

He added that the reopening to Germany is a good start for international leisure travel, with travel agents already receiving inquiries for trips to Germany for year-end holidays.

“We hope to see things pick up a lot more, and that will give a lot more confidence to those who are still adopting a wait-and-see approach.”

How a travel bubble between Singapore and Germany could set the blueprint for Australia’s international flights once 80% jab target is reached

  • From Wednesday Singapore removes quarantine for arrivals from Germany 
  • The ‘vaccinated travel lane’ will only apply to fully jabbed arrivals over 12
  • The policy provides an example for how Australia can roll out travel bubbles 










Singapore is about to allow quarantine-free travel from Germany after vaccinating 80 per cent of its population in a taste of what’s to come for Australians when the international borders finally open.

The so-called ‘vaccinated travel lane’ will begin on Wednesday for fully jabbed travellers, but excludes under 12s for whom there are no approved vaccines.

Instead of quarantining for 14 days, arrivals will have to get tested when they land in Singapore and isolate at home or in a hotel until their negative result.

Singapore (pictured) is opening up travel bubbles with 80 per cent of its country vaccinated

The lane only applies to people who did not leave Germany in the 21 days before their flight. Germany already allows unrestricted arrivals from Singapore.

It is primarily for business travel with seven flights a week to Frankfurt and Munich. 

The policy shows how Australia could set up travel bubbles once vaccination rates hit 80 per cent, expected in November.

‘Singapore is a good example for Australia to pay attention to because we are probably going to be in a similar situation – we need to open up and we need to do it in a way that Covid-19 is going to become endemic,’ said Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases physician at Canberra Hospital.

Scott Morrison’s national re-opening plan allows for outbound travel when the 80 per cent jab rate is hit. 

Millions of Australians are enduring Covid lockdowns. Pictured: A Sydney resident at Kings Cross on Monday

Millions of Australians are enduring Covid lockdowns. Pictured: A Sydney resident at Kings Cross on Monday

Australians will be able to do home quarantine for seven days when they get back from a trip or have no quarantine at all if arriving from a travel bubble country.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said his nation would gradually open its borders to the world. 

‘We will move step by step – not in one big bang like some countries, but cautiously and progressively, feeling our way forward,’ he said.  

Singapore, a nation of 6million, only recorded an average of 185 new Covid cases per day last week.  

Transport Minister S Iswaran said opening up was essential to keep the economy alive.

‘The current situation is not sustainable. As a small and open economy, Singapore’s survival and success depends critically on being open and connected to the world,’ he said. 

In 2019, Singapore welcomed a record 19.1 million travellers – more than three times its total population, with China, Indonesia and India contributing 40 per cent.

On Friday Mr Morrison confirmed that Australians will be allowed on

The residents of seven more third countries will face additional entry restrictions when attempting to enter Germany after the German Robert Koch Institute has added these countries to its list of high-risk areas regarding the Coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, August 3, the RKI – which is an agency subordinate to the Federal Ministry of Health, responsible for disease control and prevention – has published the new list of countries and territories considered high-risk areas by the German authorities, including the following in this list:

  • Albania
  • Azerbaijan
  • Guatemala
  • Japan
  • The Palestinian Territories
  • Serbia
  • Sri Lanka

The list of high-risk areas was expanded with these countries, after all of them marked increasing COVID-19 number within the last weeks. Data by World Health Organization shows that in the last 24 hours, 17,456 cases have been detected in Japan alone, which is home to a population of 126.3 million.

The decision, which will become effective on Sunday, September 5, means that all visitors from these countries who are eligible to enter Germany, who are aged 12 and older, are obliged to present vaccination certificates, or test results, upon entry. They are also obliged to register at einreiseanmeldung.de before arriving in Germany and carry proof of registration with them when reaching the country.

In addition, when entering the Federal Republic of Germany after a stay in a foreign high-risk area or virus variant area, special registration, proof and quarantine requirements must be observed,” the RKI notes in its most recent update of the high-risk areas.

At the same time, it calls attention to the fact that due to the frequently changing situation in regards to the Coronavirus pandemic, “it may be necessary to designate new high-risk areas and virus variant areas at very short notice.”

Last week, on August 24, RKI had added the Greek islands of Crete and Tinos to the high-risk list. Throughout last month, other countries as Thailand, North Macedonia, Morocco and Montenegro have also become part of this list.

>> Who Can Travel to Germany This Summer & What Are the Rules

Currently, non-vaccinated travellers can enter only from the following third countries: Armenia, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Hong Kong, Jordan, Macao, Moldova, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Ukraine.

However, even travellers from high-risk areas are permitted to enter Germany if they are fully vaccinated with one of the vaccines accepted by the German authorities as valid proof of immunity.

>> Germany Permits Entry for Travellers Jabbed With 5 COVID-19 Vaccines, Including Covishield

Germany currently is among the EU countries with the highest rates of COVID-19, alongside Spain, France, Portugal, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania and Latvia. Data by World Health Organization shows that Germany has reported 84.8 new cases per day within the last seven days per 100,000 residents, while France 143.85, Spain 80.63, and Portugal 135.01.

In the last 24 hours, on the other hand, Germany has recorded 14,251 new cases, bringing the total number of cases recorded since

The United States on Monday raised the travel risk alert for Germany, Switzerland, and several other European countries due to the high rate of COVID-19 in those counties.

Switzerland, Estonia, North Macedonia, Azerbaijan, and Saint Lucia have been listed in the level 4 category, meaning they are among the highest-risk destinations for travelers, according to the latest advisory from the US Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Germany, Canada, and Moldova have been bumped up to level 3, “reconsider travel,” up from level 2, due to “a high level of COVID-19.”

US territories Guam and Puerto Rico were also deemed high-risk.

EU takes US off safe travel list

The move comes a day after the European Union recommended its member states reimpose travel restrictions on US tourists amid rising infections in the country.

The European Council announced Monday that it was taking six countries, including the US, off the safe list of locations for nonessential travel during the pandemic.

“Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, the Republic of North Macedonia, and the United States of America were removed from the list,” the body representing the bloc’s members states said in a statement.

However, the guidance was nonbinding on the national capitals.

The US has been recording 1,200 COVID-19 deaths per day nationwide, the highest levels since mid-March.

Meanwhile, its new daily infections are averaging over 155,000, a rate last seen in January.

How are CDC advisories issued?

According to the CDC criteria, level 4 or “very high” risk destinations are those with an incidence rate of more than 500 new cases per 100,000 population over the past 28 days.

Level 3 destinations are those that have 100-500 cases per 100,000 people over the same period.

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A Singapore Airlines plane is parked beside Scoots passenger planes on the terminal tarmac at Changi International Airport in Singapore on March 15, 2021.

Roslan Rahman | AFP | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Singapore is reopening its borders to more destinations, and some travelers from Hong Kong, Macao, Germany and Brunei will soon be able to enter without having to serve quarantine.

The city-state announced the lifting of border restrictions for visitors from Hong Kong and Macao, who can apply for entry immediately and enter Singapore as soon as Aug. 26, according to Transport Minister S. Iswaran.

Singapore will also be opening a so-called vaccinated travel lane with Germany and Brunei in September, the national aviation authority said. It means Singaporeans can travel to Germany and Brunei, while visitors from those countries can travel to Singapore without quarantine, if the conditions are met.

“As an open and small economy, our connectivity with the rest of the world is essential, if not existential. That is why we need to start reopening,” Iswaran told reporters. “The longer our borders remain closed, the greater the risk of lasting damage to our economy, our livelihoods and our status as an aviation hub.”

Singapore has unilaterally opened its borders to travelers from Taiwan, New Zealand and most visitors from mainland China. The Southeast Asian country closed its borders to Australia and Vietnam after a resurgence of the virus in those countries.

Hong Kong and Macao

Travelers from Hong Kong and Macao, regardless of vaccination status, can now apply for an air travel pass to enter Singapore.

They will need to take a Covid test when they arrive in Singapore, and self-isolate until they receive a negative test result. There will be no need to serve quarantine.

Visitors need to have spent the last 21 consecutive days in Hong Kong or Macao before traveling to Singapore.

This arrangement is unilateral, which means people traveling from Singapore to Hong Kong or Macao will be subject to the rules of each destination.

For example, Singapore is classified as a medium-risk country in Hong Kong, and people arriving from Singapore will have to be quarantined for seven days to 21 days, depending on their vaccination status, among other factors.

Germany and Brunei

Singapore’s arrangement with Germany and Brunei allows only fully vaccinated travelers to skip quarantines. They will have to take four Covid tests — one two days before departure, one upon arrival, one on day three and another on day seven.

If the travel lane with Germany is successfully launched in September, it will be the first time Singapore residents can travel for leisure to any country without quarantine since the city-state closed its borders last year. Singapore postponed its travel bubble with Hong Kong twice because of rising Covid cases.

Applications to travel to Singapore from Germany or Brunei open on Sept. 1, and conditions include:

  • Traveling on designated, nonstop flights for the vaccinated travel lane (VTL);
  • Remaining in Germany or Brunei for 21 consecutive days

Vaccinated tourists from Hong Kong, Macao, Germany and Brunei will soon be allowed into the country without needing to enter quarantine but some restrictions still apply. Video / Mediacorp

Singapore has announced they will be reopening their borders to allow in vaccinated tourists from a range of destinations, including residents from Hong Kong, Macao, Germany and Brunei.

Travellers from the listed countries will be able to enter Singapore from September 8 without needing to enter quarantine, essentially meaning they can bypass the isolation requirement if they test negative to four Covid-19 tests.

The testing requirements for the new travel lanes mean each person will require a pre-departure test within 48 hours of their scheduled flight, an on-arrival test at Changi Airport, and post-arrival tests on days three and seven at a designated clinic in Singapore.

If a foreign visitor fails or refuses the tests, they may face charges under the Infectious Diseases Act.

If someone tests positive after landing into Singapore, they will be issued a stay-home notice to be quarantined in a dedicated facility, authorities said.

Under the new travel order, a person must be fully vaccinated for two weeks after they have received both doses of either Pfizer, Moderna or other vaccines listed under the World Health Organisation (WHO) emergency use list, such as Sinovac and AstraZeneca.

In June, as one of the world’s most successful countries at combating Covid-19, Singapore said it would make major changes to the way it managed the pandemic.

Travellers from Germany and the EU can now bypass quarantine requirements. Photo / Unsplash, Joe Green
Travellers from Germany and the EU can now bypass quarantine requirements. Photo / Unsplash, Joe Green

The city state of Singapore has stated Covid-19 will be treated like other endemic diseases such as the flu.

There will be no goals of zero transmission. Quarantine will be dumped for vaccinated travellers and close contact of cases will not have to isolate. It also plans to no longer announce daily case numbers.

Senior Singaporean ministers have said it is the “new normal” of “living with covid”.

“The bad news is that Covid-19 may never go away. The good news is that it is possible to live normally with it in our midst,” wrote Singapore’s Trade Minister Gan Kim Yong, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong and Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said in an editorial in the Straits Times this week.

“It means that the virus will continue to mutate, and thereby survive in our community.”

Having never returned to zero cases, Singapore now no longer wants to.

German Ambassador to Singapore, Dr Norbert Riedel, welcomed travellers from Singapore on the two-way bridge into the Schengen zone.

“My fellow Germans have a very positive image of Singapore and the achievements of its people, and I am sure that Singaporeans will be welcomed with an open mind and cheerful spirit,” he told The Straits Times.

Singapore never returned to zero cases. No, it appears it never wants to. Photo / Unsplash, Swapnil Bapat
Singapore never returned to zero cases. No, it appears it never wants to. Photo / Unsplash, Swapnil Bapat

Like most countries, Singapore had an initial peak of cases last year, topping

A Singapore Airlines plane is parked beside Scoots passenger planes on the terminal tarmac at Changi International Airport in Singapore on March 15, 2021.

Roslan Rahman | AFP | Getty Images

Interest in travel between Singapore and Germany shot up after a so-called vaccinated travel lane between the two countries was announced, which means that inoculated travelers can skip quarantine.

Popular online travel booking site Expedia said searches for travel from Singapore to destinations in Germany spiked nearly 10 times, as compared to the average for the past seven days, as of Friday afternoon.

Interest was also high for travel from Germany to Singapore, the site said. “While Singapore was never a top 10 leisure destination for German travellers, it was interesting to see interest for travel to Singapore from Frankfurt and Munich jump by 70% in the last 24 hours,” said Lavinia Rajaram, APAC head of communications at Expedia, in a Friday statement.

“With the launch of the vaccinated travel lane scheme, this will surely bode well with those who are already vaccinated and have a desire to travel, and provide a much welcomed boost to the travel industry,” Rajaram added.

Singapore’s vaccinated travel lane with Germany was on Thursday announced by the city-state, which also extended this initiative to Brunei.

Applications for the quarantine-free travel to Singapore from Germany or Brunei will open from September, but it does come with certain conditions. Fully vaccinated people traveling to Singapore will have to take four Covid tests — one two days before departure, one upon arrival, one on day three and another on day seven.

Other conditions for travel to Singapore from Germany or Brunei include:

  • Traveling on designated, nonstop flights for the vaccinated travel lane (VTL);
  • Remaining in Germany or Brunei for 21 consecutive days before the flight;
  • Downloading a contact tracing app in Singapore.

On ticket prices, Expedia’s Rajaram added that airlines offering flights under the scheme have announced “competitive pricing.”

Still, Rajaram said: “It’s too early to conclude if prices are going to increase in the next few days — but we can expect demand to grow closer to the holiday season.”

Searches for travel from Hong Kong, Macao also rise

Singapore had also announced that travelers from Hong Kong and Macao, regardless of vaccination status, can now apply for an air travel pass to enter Singapore.

They also will not need to serve quarantine, but must take a Covid test when they arrive in Singapore, and self-isolate until they receive a negative test result, Singapore authorities said.

Searches for travel from the two Chinese territories to Singapore also went up following the announcement — by close to 450%, according to Expedia.

“This is not a surprise to us, given travellers in Hong Kong (HK) have been extremely eager to take that first leisure trip. Singapore is also a top destination for HK travellers in the second half of the year,” Expedia said.

— CNBC’s Abigail Ng contributed to this report.

The German government from is reclassifying two of the most popular vacation destinations for its citizens — the Netherlands and Greece — as coronavirus risk areas.

The announcement from the Robert Koch Institute for disease control means that the German Foreign Office advises against tourist travel to these countries.

This classification also applies to Danish capital Copenhagen and its surrounding regions. People returning from these spots are expected to provide a negative test to if they are not vaccinated or recently recovered from COVID.

Germanyhas recorded 1,456 new COVID infections, taking the country’s total tally to 3,741,781, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases. The death toll has risen by 18 to 91,337.

Here are some more of the latest coronavirus-related stories from around the world:

Europe

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control on Friday said it expected to see 420 cases per 100,000 for the week ending August 1.

The agency, which covers the European Union as well as Norway and Iceland, said that compared with a figure of just under 90 last week.

In France, the Eiffel Tower reopened to the public on Friday after shutting its doors for eight months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visitors stroll past the Eiffel Tower ahead of its reopening

The Eiffel Tower reopened on Friday following its longest closure since World War Two

It’s the longest period of time the landmark attraction has been closed since World War Two.

Tickets were in high demand, selling out online, although a number of visitors were able to get tickets for visits later in the day.

The 130-year-old landmark had been due to reopen in December, but health concerns forced authorities to keep the popular attraction closed for business.

Hungary is set to offer a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine starting August 1, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said. It would be mandatory for all healthcare workers to take the vaccine. He added that it will be up to doctors to decide which vaccine is taken as the third shot. However, it must come at least four months after the second shot, unless medical advice says otherwise.

Americas

US President Joe Biden said experts are reviewing when the United States can lift travel restrictions that ban most-non citizens from coming to the country from much of Europe. 

Speaking at a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Biden said he hopes to be able to announce “in the next several days” when travel between the US and much of Europe will resume.

“I’m waiting to hear from our folks in our COVID team, as to when that should be done,” he said. 

“It has to be a sustainable decision,” Merkel added. “It is certainly not sensible to have to take it back after only a few days.”

The United States has been urged to lift restrictions that cover most non-US citizens who have been in Britain, the 26 Schengen nations in Europe, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.

The Schengen Zone currently faces

Travelers from the UK to Germany will face softer quarantine restrictions, after altered recommendations from the German public health agency the Robert Koch Institute published on Monday. Portugal, Russia, India and Nepal have also been downgraded.

The change will means simpler requirements for people visiting those countries. People who have had either both vaccination doses, or who can demonstrate they have recovered from COVID, will not need to isolate on their return or arrival.

People who have not been vaccinated will be required to self-isolate, but only for up to 10 days. They will also have the option to leave quarantine early with a negative coronavirus test on the fifth day.

Under the countries’ previous classification, all people reaching Germany were required to self-isolate for 14 days, no matter what their personal COVID status. And only German citizens or residents were permitted to travel from the affected countries, not visitors from places like the UK.

The plan, which kicks in on Wednesday, comes after talks on Friday between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Health Minister Jens Spahn had already hinted last week that a possible change of policy would be forthcoming.

A Lufthansa plane taking off from Frankfurt Airport

Flights between Germany and the UK were restricted to essential travel only

Fears over delta variant

Officials in Berlin had feared that British nationals could spread the more contagious variant known as delta, which was first discovered in India.

But now that new variant is also present in continental Europe, Germany has downgraded the UK to a “high-incidence area”for coronavirus infections.

It is the second highest designation under the German government’s COVID-19 travel rules. Britain had been branded a “virus variant area” since May 23.

Changes to German travel rules

Eleven countries remain on Germany’s “virus variant area” list.

They include Botswana, Brazil, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Uruguay.

A PCR test center at the Sao Paulo International Airport.

Brazil stays on the German blacklist owing to high infection rates

German COVID caseloads have stabilized at very low levels in recent weeks, despite concerns about variants making up a larger share of the cases that remain. The RKI on Monday reported 212 new cases and an incidence rate of 5 new infections per 100,000 people over the last seven days.

jf/msh (AFP, Reuters)