(Bloomberg) – Singapore and Germany have agreed to start a reciprocal green lane allowing travel for business or official reasons, the latest step by governments to prise open borders largely sealed by the coronavirus.
Residents of both countries will have to follow virus prevention and public health measures, according to a joint statement Friday. Operational details, including health protocols and application processes, will be announced in due course. The agreement could serve as a model for future ones between Singapore and other countries in Europe.
With coronavirus cases easing in Singapore, the city-state has been working on reestablishing travel links to help reboot its economy and aviation industry. On Oct. 15, Singapore and Hong Kong announced they planned to reopen their borders to one another for the first time in almost seven months, though no firm date has been set yet. That arrangement, which includes leisure travel, could start with one daily flight between the two Asian financial hubs.
Singapore’s arrangement with Germany comes despite an uptick in infections in the European country, with health officials warning the virus could spiral out of control there. Germany registered 12,331 cases in the 24 hours through Thursday morning, the first time daily infections exceeded 10,000. That daily figure is more than twice the number of infections Hong Kong has reported in total.
Singapore has curbed the spread of Covid-19, with new daily infections hovering near zero, and is considering loosening curbs on social distancing. In an interview with Bloomberg Television on Thursday, Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said “staying open and connected” would be crucial for economic success post-pandemic.
Bilateral travel agreements have proved difficult to establish because of virus flareups, and strict quarantine requirements are putting people off travel. A survey of travelers by the International Air Transport Association found that 83% were unwilling to travel if it involved a 14-day quarantine period.
In an interview with Bloomberg TV last week, Singapore’s Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said effective virus testing was key to replacing quarantine and reviving travel. “We have to gradually open up the borders, establish the key links that made us a hub,” he said.
Singapore has formed green lanes for business and official travel with several other countries, but none as far afield as Germany. They include Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Indonesia and Brunei.