While Hong Kong clamps down on travel further still, the Lion City is roaring ahead. Here’s where Singapore has been building bridges.
This month, following a small outbreak of infections, Hong Kong imposed mandatory hotel quarantine on all arrivals. The only exceptions were for travellers from mainland China, Macau and Taiwan.
Previously to the new ruling, only arrivals from high-risk countries were required to quarantine in a hotel, while those from low-risk countries could self-isolate at home for 14 days. From November 13, all arrivals will now need to have a hotel booking for the 14 nights immediately after their arrival in Hong Kong.
This is another blow to a city which last month saw one of its airlines go under. Following a year of plunging passenger numbers, Cathay Dragon, Cathay Pacific’s regional carrier, was axed, leaving thousands of redundancies in its jet trail.
While Hong Kong continues to allow only residents or relevant visa holders entry, further south, Singapore has been forging ahead, relaunching its cruise industry this week and forming 'travel bubbles' and Reciprocal Green Lanes (RGLs) with a number of nations.
China was the first country to establish a business-led RGL with Singapore and arrivals from six provinces have been able to avoid quarantine on arrival since June. They do, however, need to take a Covid-19 swab test. Provinces included in the agreement are Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing, Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang and travellers must be sponsored by a company or government agency.
An in-principle agreement has been reached and despite this month’s mandatory hotel quarantine announcement, the Hong Kong government has said it’s still aiming to form an RGL with Singapore by late November. Watch this space…
The RGL between the two countries was established at the end of October. The arrangement allows for applications for essential business travel, diplomatic travel and urgent official travel. Air travel resumed between Changi Airport and Jakarta on October 26, as well as sea travel between Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal and Batam Centre Ferry Centre. Travellers must undergo an involved application process involving a sponsoring organisation and adhering to swab tests and digital contact tracing.
An RGL arrangement was struck between Japan and Singapore in September. The Business Track allows cross-border travel for business, although travellers must undergo testing before they leave home and again on arrival in Singapore. They must also adhere to a controlled itinerary for the first 14 days. This was Japan's first travel corridor.
The RGL and the Periodic Commuting Arrangement have been in place with neighbouring Malaysia since August. Under the Reciprocal Green Lane, residents can travel for essential business and official purposes between both countries. The Periodic Commuting Arrangement allows residents of both countries who hold long-term immigration passes for business or work to return home for short-term leave.
New Zealand & Brunei
Singapore announced the setting up of a green lane for general travel to Brunei and New Zealand, including leisure, on September 1. Arrivals from these two countries do not need to serve a stay-home notice. Prior to travel to Singapore, travellers need to apply for an air travel pass, although returning residents and Singapore citizens do not require a pass.
Business travellers from South Korea are welcome to land in Singapore as long as they are sponsored by a company who must complete the relevant documentation for them. Pre and post-arrival testing must be carried out and travellers must adhere to a controlled itinerary for the first 14 days of their stay and download the relevant contact tracing mobile apps.