NSW outbreak, vaccine rollout delay Singapore bubble

Australians hoping to travel somewhere a little more exotic than New Zealand have been dealt a blow.

The concerning COVID-19 outbreak in NSW and Australia’s slow vaccine rollout have all but scuppered plans for a travel bubble with Singapore.

Tourism minister Dan Tehan told The Sydney Morning Herald that the plans for the Singapore bubble had had to be pushed back until the end of the year in the wake of the new developments.

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Mr Tehan, who left on a two-week trade mission to Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea and the United States on Sunday, said he was still hopeful that travel between the two countries would open up before the end of the year.

“When it comes to when we were looking at a bubble, it has been put back due to the third wave of the virus,” he said.

“This is something that we want to continue to progress and it’ll be part of discussions, so that when the time comes, and we can get the medical experts to tick off on it, Singapore still remains a potential next step when it comes to future travel bubbles.

Read more: Trans-Tasman bubble open to select states

“It’s very difficult to put a time frame on it but when you look at the plan that Singapore have put in place and you put it alongside the plan that the prime minister has announced, the hope might be towards the end of the year that you could look at a travel bubble with Singapore.”

Much like the trans-Tasman travel bubble, the Singapore arrangement would allow citizens from both countries to travel without strict quarantine requirements.

In some slight good news on the travel bubble front this week, New Zealand also announced that it was reopening up the arrangement with Queensland, leaving NSW as the sole outlier with no access to NZ.

Read more: Princess and P&O announce cruise pause

“The health risk from Queensland is now low,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters on Monday.

New Zealand shut down the bubble to the whole of Australia when there were cases growing around the country, but has slowly opened up to all of them as the COVID situation has improved.

While there are thousands of Kiwis trapped in NSW, Ms Ardern said they would be allowed to return if they agreed to spend a fortnight in hotel quarantine.

“That’s an indication that we think that there is a significant road to travel (before NSW is back in the bubble),” Ms Ardern said.

“I wouldn’t want to, at this stage, put a date on when we would likely see a pause lift.”

Were you hopeful of travelling to Singapore this year? Do you think there might still be hope for a travel bubble with other countries in the Pacific? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

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Written by Ben