Planes jetting between Singapore and China next week will be carrying some of the first passengers of the two nations’ “Covid-19 travel “bubble", Voice of America reports.
Before then flights linked to China were starting to become a political matter, as the nation took issue with places from the United States to Vietnam for canceling travel in the wake of the virus emergency.
Passengers have to be sponsored by a government agency or a company and were able to start applying for the “fast lane” for essential travel on Monday, according to Singapore’s trade and foreign ministries. Approval means residents can travel between China and Singapore without a quarantine if they test negative for the virus and follow other rules.
The joint decision by China and Singapore to allow some travel also eases up on virus-related limits. “It will be a long while before life returns to near normal, but we are beginning to see some light,” the Singapore Minister of Transport Khaw Boon Wan said of the plan to increase flights, via a Facebook post. “However, recreational travel will have to take a back seat for now.”
The limited flights are mostly meant for business and official travel. With the coronavirus spreading around the world from the start of the year, international travel has plummeted to near oblivion. However some nations that were able to curb the spread have struck agreements with their neighbors to form a “bubble” of limited travel without a quarantine, because of the lower risk of each other’s citizens passing on the virus. Denmark and Norway have done that, for instance, as have Australia and New Zealand. Singapore, along with South Korea and Canada, are working with the latter two nations on opening up to further travel as well.
The fast lane will allow for essential travel between Singapore and six cities in China: Shanghai, Guangdong, Tianjin, Chongqing, Jiangsu and Zhejiang. That could help facilitate business for companies such as LabMed, which produces personal and protective medical equipment in China and sends it to Singapore to be distributed to the rest of the world. The company has contracted out to GEODIS to handle logistics, a sector that has become more complicated with Covid-19.