Singapore, June 8 (IANS) Singapore and China on Monday began a “travel bubble” between the two countries with the aim to resume economic activity after containing the novel coronavirus pandemic.
According to a bilateral agreement signed in late May, citizens of both countries will be able to resume official travel and essential services between the city-state and six Chinese cities such as Shanghai and Guangdong from Monday, Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced in a statement.
“The scheme is open to residents in Singapore and China who need to make essential business or official trips between the two countries. The arrangement will be gradually expanded to other Chinese provinces and municipalities,” Efe news quoted the statement as saying.
Under the pact, travellers from Singapore and China will have to apply in advance, although they are exempted from complying with serving a mandatory 14-day isolation period upon entering the country.
They will have to undergo a series of medical tests and will have to test negative for COVID-19 48 hours before travel and after landing, in addition to incurring the cost of these tests.
After arriving at their destination, they will have to remain in isolation for a day or two until the result of their last test is confirmed.
The authorities also urge travelers to avoid using mass transport during their transfers and instead opt for private vehicles and taxis.
“Travellers must adhere to a controlled itinerary that is supervised by the host company or government agency for the first 14 days,” the statement said.
In addition, a mobile phone application will have to be downloaded in each country to trace the individual’s movements.
Although Singapore and China – where the virus allegedly originated – are the Asian countries with the highest number of COVID-19 cases, they claim to have their epidemics under control.
The city-state is in talks with other countries, including South Korea, New Zealand and Malaysia, to come to an agreement for similar “travel bubbles”.
“This is part of Singapore’s gradual reopening of our borders for Singaporeans and residents to conduct essential activities overseas and to allow safe travel for foreigners entering Singapore in limited numbers, with the necessary safeguards in place to ensure public health considerations are addressed,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in its statement.