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 will allow quarantine-free entry to travelers from Germany and Brunei who are vaccinated against COVID-19 starting from today. Visitors

Photo: Lauryn Ishak/Bloomberg

Singapore will allow quarantine-free entry to travelers from Germany and Brunei who are vaccinated against COVID-19 starting from today.

Visitors from these countries can begin bypassing the isolation requirement if they test negative in four COVID-19 tests, making it the first travel bubble of its kind between Asia and Europe since the pandemic began. Border restrictions will also be progressively eased for all travel from Hong Kong and Macau starting September 11.

Singapore has vaccinated 71.3% of its population, giving them a strong foundation to introduce vaccination-differentiated border measures for travelers from regions that have controlled the pandemic well. As business and leisure travel is essential to Singapore’s trade-dependent economy, Singapore is looking to kick-start their economy by treating COVID-19 like the influenza.

Expect Singapore to use this bubble as a trial of sorts, as the country begins reopening borders to the rest of the world. If successful, its international travel framework will likely pave the way for how other countries, such as Australia, tackles its own international border reopening.  Despite its promise, expect the process to move slowly, as the highly limited nature of the reopening protects Singapore from a potential surge of cases.

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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 much-awaited Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble officially burst as both governments announced to drop all plans for the bilateral agreement. Discussions on the Air Travel Bubble (ATB) began in the latter part of 2020 but launch plans have been postponed several times. The last scheduled launch for the ATB was in May but it was once again suspended due to an uptick in Covid-19 cases in The Lion City. 

Both cities have decided to halt the agreement because of differing anti-epidemic strategies. Under the initial agreement, the ATB will be suspended if the seven-day moving average of unlinked community cases in either city increases to more than five. According to the Hong Kong government with Singapore currently moving towards a new strategy of building a ‘Covid-resilient’ nation, the basic premises that underpin the ATB have changed. 

Though the travel bubble is no longer happening, Hongkongers may soon travel to Singapore without the need for quarantine, regardless of their vaccination status since Hong Kong falls under ‘very low risk countries and regions’. The same applies for Mainland China (except Jiangsu province), Macau, New Zealand, and Taiwan. Travellers from Hong Kong will be allowed to enter Singapore quarantine-free starting August 21.

But since Singapore falls under ‘medium-risk’ Group B specified places in Hong Kong, unvaccinated inbound travellers returning from Singapore will have to undergo compulsory quarantine for 21 days while vaccinated travellers will have to quarantine for 14 days in a designated hotel.

Planning to travel to Singapore soon? Here’s a local’s guide to the best places to eat, drink, and shop in Singapore. For updates on the current social distancing restrictions in the city, visit our regularly updated guide. Want to hear more about the latest news in Hong Kong? Subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to get the news!

Despite a shocker run of lockdowns and Delta outbreaks, vaccination rates are ramping up across the country, and Aussies are getting pretty excited about the thought of international travel returning to normal.

Just last week, national carrier Qantas defiantly announced plans to kickstart international travel as soon as Christmas, with CEO Alan Joyce describing trading as “diabolical”.

RELATED: Aussies are losing it over Qantas’ new vaccination ad

First on the struggling airline’s hit-list are countries with high COVID-19 vaccination rates, with Singapore leading the short tally of eligible nations.

So far, Australia has only been able to successfully open a travel bubble with neighbouring New Zealand, although borders remain closed at the time of writing due to concerns over growing COVID-19 cases at home.

READ MORE: Qantas offers free points, flight vouchers, for fully vaccinated Australians

But with Singapore likely to be the next bubble on the cards, what will a travel pact with the sovereign nation look like?

Here’s everything you need to know about planning a trip to Singapore, and how the travel bubble will work when it opens.

SINGAPORE (9)
Singapore has been named as the most COVID-resilient country, taking out New Zealand who formerly had the top spot. (Getty)

When will Singapore be open to Australians?

Qantas is looking to open up travel by mid-December, 2021.

The Australian government is currently in talks to open up a travel bubble between Australia and Singapore, though there is no official date set yet. This bubble would allow residents from both countries to travel between the two without any mandatory quarantine.

Singapore has now vaccinated 80 per cent of the population against COVID-19, according to recent figures, making them a prime candidate once Australia can match their efforts on the jab front.

What countries are in the Singapore travel bubble?

Australia is currently deemed a ‘category two’ nation by the Singapore government, which means that you can at least, in theory, enter if you commit to undergoing a seven-day stay-home notice at your accommodation of choice.

RELATED: Tourism Australia’s new campaign isn’t about travel — it’s about vaccination

Of course, Australia will be looking to upgrade to a ‘category one’ once an acceptable level of vaccinations has been achieved, joining the likes of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China (excluding Jiangsu province), Macao, New Zealand and Taiwan. These nations currently aren’t required to quarantine, but do need to complete an on-arrival COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. If the test is negative, travellers are free to holiday and go where they please.

While it’s unlikely our government will open the floodgates to all of the destinations listed above in one hit, they could all form part of our bubble in the later stages of reopening international travel.

Do I have to be vaccinated to enter Singapore?

Yes. There’s no doubt about it now. The privilege of international travel will demand you get the jab prior to boarding a flight, with many local carriers taking a hardline stance on the matter.

Qantas is already taking bookings to Singapore with international flights set to resume from mid-December.

The flying kangaroo airline started accepting bookings to the Asian financial hub on Thursday morning, hours after it announced overseas flights would resume when 80 per cent of Australians were fully vaccinated.

The federal government is yet to formally repeal the ban on overseas holiday travel but air tickets for Singapore are now available.

Prices for a Qantas flight from Sydney just before Christmas, one way, start at $741 for economy.

Scroll down for video 

Qantas is already taking booking to Singapore with international flights set to resume from mid-December. The flying kangaroo airline started accepting booking to the Asian financial hub on Thursday morning, hours after it announced overseas flights would resume when 80 per cent of Australians were fully vaccinated

Airfares for destinations like Singapore went on sale on Thursday morning even though the federal government is yet to formally announce the end of the travel ban for overseas holidays. Prices for a Qantas flight from Sydney just before Christmas, one way, start at $741 for premium economy

Airfares for destinations like Singapore went on sale on Thursday morning even though the federal government is yet to formally announce the end of the travel ban for overseas holidays. Prices for a Qantas flight from Sydney just before Christmas, one way, start at $741 for premium economy

A day before the Qantas announcement, Trade and Tourism Minister Dan Tehan hinted Australia’s travel bubble with New Zealand would be expanded to include the likes of Singapore.

‘When we see 80 per cent are fully vaccinated, outbound international restrictions will be lifted and travel bubbles will be expanded,’ he told Parliament.

‘So not only will we have the travel bubble with New Zealand but the Pacific Islands, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, the US, the UK are all possibilities that we’ll be able to extend our travel bubbles to.’ 

Travellers from Australia are already on Singapore’s favoured list, despite lockdowns in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, with no pre-Covid test required before boarding a flight.

Only China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Canada, Germany,  New Zealand and Macau are also in Singapore’s special category.

Qantas is expecting Australia to reach the 80 per cent vaccination target in December – triggering the re-opening of international borders as part of ‘Phase C’ of the federal government’s path to pandemic normality. 

A day before the Qantas announcement, Trade and Tourism Minister Dan Tehan hinted Australia's travel bubble with New Zealand would be expanded to include the likes of Singapore

A day before the Qantas announcement, Trade and Tourism Minister Dan Tehan hinted Australia’s travel bubble with New Zealand would be expanded to include the likes of Singapore

Qantas plan for international travel

MID-DECEMBER: Singapore, the United States, Japan, United Kingdom and Canada using Boeing 787s

New Zealand if travel bubble reopened with Australia 

Airbus A330s, and 737s and A320s for services to Fiji

FEBRUARY 2022: Hong Kong 

APRIL 2022: Bali, Jakarta, Manila, Bangkok, Phuket, Ho Chi Minh City and Johannesburg

APRIL 2022: Budget subsidiary Jetstar to resume international flights 

JULY 2022: Sydney to Los Angeles on A380s

NOVEMBER 2022: Sydney to London via Singapore with Darwin instead of Perth as a possible transit point 

The first available travel routes will be to first-world destinations with high vaccination rates including the United States, Canada, the UK, Singapore, Japan and New Zealand, Qantas told the Australian Securities Exchange.

Those routes will

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

(CNN) — While our passports haven’t been getting many stamps since March 2020, at least our vocabularies are expanding. Variants, mandates, quarantines and requirements — who knew 2021 would be so polysyllabic?

CNN Travel has, as always, been keeping an eye on the week’s developments and here’s our roundup of what we learned in Covid travel in the last seven days.

1. American Airlines won’t serve alcohol in coach until 2022

American Airlines said in a memo to employees that it's "doing all we can to help create a safe environment for our crew and customers."

American Airlines said in a memo to employees that it’s “doing all we can to help create a safe environment for our crew and customers.”

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

It turns out AA has a problem with alcohol.

The airline says the move is part of a two-pronged approach to improving safety on board, both in terms of Covid-19 spread and curbing unruly passenger behavior. On Thursday, the US Federal Aviation Authority proposed more than $500,000 in new fines against rule-breaking travelers.

2. Hong Kong has strict quarantine rules — but not if you’re Nicole Kidman

Australian actor Nicole Kidman was granted a quarantine exemption by Hong Kong.

Australian actor Nicole Kidman was granted a quarantine exemption by Hong Kong.

Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP

Hong Kong has some of the strictest Covid-19 quarantine rules in the world — but a special exemption has been granted to Hollywood star Nicole Kidman.

Kidman arrived in the city from Sydney by private jet on August 12, reportedly to film a series for Amazon. She and four crew members were granted a special exemption to “perform designated professional work,” avoiding a quarantine which would ordinarily mean spending 14 to 21 days in a hotel at your own expense.

3. A locked-down tourism board is promoting vaccination instead

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says anti-lockdown protesters are “selfish” for breaking social distancing rules. In the meantime, Hanoi, Vietnam, is under lockdown to try to contain a spike in new cases there. And in Indonesia, restrictions have been extended by a week. CNN’s Michael Holmes reports.

So Tourism Australian’s new campaign has taken a different tack. “It’s Our Best Shot for Travel” launched domestically this week and is a drive to get more people vaccinated.

4. The US has extended border restrictions and adds more countries to ‘do not travel’ list

The US has been limiting nonessential travel along both borders since the start of the pandemic, with exceptions being made for cross-border trade, US citizens and lawful permanent residents, as well as people traveling for reasons such as medical purposes or to attend school.

A landscape that was sculpted by nature has carved out a unique identity in the heart of Turkey.

Meanwhile four new destinations — Dominica, Jersey, Montenegro and Turkey — have been added to the highest-risk Level 4 category on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s travel advisories list.

In happier news, Chile, Mozambique and Uruguay have all moved down to Level 3, which urges unvaccinated travelers to avoid nonessential travel to those locations.

Uruguay has closed its borders to all but citizens and residents since the start of the pandemic, but this month

Much-delayed corridor plans ran afoul of case spikes and “differences in the anti-epidemic strategies”

The governments of Singapore and Hong Kong have ended efforts to establish an air travel bubble between the two destinations. In statements confirming the decision to halt further discussions, both countries indicated that policy changes in the fight against COVID-19 had made a travel bubble agreement unworkable.

“In Singapore, a substantial proportion of our population is fully vaccinated,” read a statement from Singapore’s ministry of transport. “Hong Kong too is progressively vaccinating its population. Both sides are focused on keeping our populations safe and preventing the risk of imported cases.”

However, the ministry said Singapore has shifted its strategy toward becoming “a COVID-resilient nation,” the statement continued. “Against this backdrop, both parties agreed that it would not be possible to launch or sustain the ATB in its present form.”

Officials of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region cited “differences in the anti-epidemic strategies currently adopted by the two places.” Hong Kong said that Singapore’s new strategy meant that “the basic premises that underpin the ATB have changed.”

The two countries had originally planned to start the corridor in November 2020. However a spike in COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong pushed the launch date to May, only to be postponed again because Singapore saw a spike in the number of cases. In June Singapore’s ministry of transport said it would revisit the possibility of a travel bubble with Hong Kong in July, but the latest announcement appears to scuttle the plan for good.

Notwithstanding, Singapore has announced that beginning August 21, it will unilaterally allow travelers from Hong Kong to enter without being required to quarantine. However restrictions remain in place for travelers arriving into Hong Kong from Singapore, although “Hong Kong will continue to consider adjusting its border measures to facilitate travelers from Singapore to enter Hong Kong,” according to the Singapore ministry of transport.

At the outset of the pandemic, the industry had looked at air travel bubbles as one way to safely resume international flights, but thus far, the policies have not played out in the real world of SARS-CoV-2. The failure of Singapore-Hong Kong corridor follows the suspension of the Australia-New Zealand travel bubble in July.