Vietnam, Singapore to launch travel bubble next year

The governments of Vietnam and Singapore plan to launch a "green lane" between the two countries for business and official travel next year.
December 17, 2020 | 16:28
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Vietnamese citizens on a repatriation flight from Singapore, May 31, 2020. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Airlines.

Permanent Secretary of Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Chee Wee Kiong, and Vietnam's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Dung agreed to "expeditiously conclude ongoing discussions" on a "green lane" agreement for essential business and official travel and restore regular commercial flights between the two countries next year, the Singapore's foreign ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

Singapore will be among the first few countries with which Vietnam will resume regularized essential business and official travel, the ministry said.

"They affirmed the importance of enhancing cooperation to combat the economic impact of the pandemic in several ways including boosting economic linkages, restoring air connectivity, facilitating travel between both countries, and maintaining supply chain connectivity," it said.

They tasked officials with finalizing the agreement early next year.

The two officials also agreed that multilateral cooperation on developing, manufacturing, and distributing vaccines was essential for mounting an effective international response to the Covid-19 pandemic, VNExpress reported.

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A traveler stands near automated check-in kiosks inside the departure hall of a terminal at Singapore Changi Airport on Sep 11, 2020. Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman

Singapore has handled the COVID-19 pandemic well, with the exception of buildings where migrant workers live, where tens of thousands of cases have been detected. The island state's death toll, however, is only 29, and the government is further loosening social distancing regulations on December 28, according to Channel News Asia.

Vietnam reported no new COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours, with the tally standing at 1,405, according to the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control. Of the total, 693 cases were transmitted domestically. December 17 marked the 16th consecutive day without community-transmitted infections in the country.

As of December 16 afternoon, 1,252 patients had been given the all-clear. The fatalities remain at 35. Among patients still under treatment, 3 have tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 once, 6 twice and 6 thrice. A total of 18,378 people who had close contact with COVID-19 patients or arrived from pandemic-hit areas are being quarantined nationwide, with 207 at hospitals, 15,567 at concentrated facilities, and 2,804 at home or their accommodations.

Starting October 8, Singapore unilaterally removed border restrictions for visitors from Vietnam, recognizing the effective containment of Covid-19 by the latter.

Vietnamese visitors need not serve stay-home notice upon arrival in Singapore but will be required to take a COVID-19 test instead. If the test result is negative, they will be allowed to go about their activities in Singapore.

Vietnamese visitors must have also remained in the country for 14 consecutive days prior to arrival in Singapore.

The Vietnamese government had earlier green-lighted the resumption of two-way commercial flights to seven Asian destinations: mainland China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. However, Vietnamese carriers have not yet been allowed to operate inbound flights while the government finalizes quarantine procedures for foreign passengers.
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