SINGAPORE – Singapore Treasury Secretary Lawrence Wong said “open and free” air travel in Asia remains unlikely in the short term as parts of the region struggle with spikes in Covid-19 infections.
“The region is still facing rolling waves of infection and vaccination rates for many countries in the region are still not high enough. So I don’t think we will see open and free travel in the region in particular. “Soon,” said the minister, who also heads Singapore’s coronavirus task force.
Singapore is a Southeast Asian city-state with no domestic air travel market. International travel suddenly stalled last year due to the pandemic, and that hit Singapore’s aviation and tourism sectors – two key drivers of economic growth.
For the most part … none of this is going to match what we had before Covid. So I’m afraid that air travel will take some time to recover.
Finance Minister, Singapore
Wong said the Singapore government continues to speak to its counterparts in the region about establishing “safer travel routes”. He did not name the places where Singapore is being discussed.
“Maybe we have some travel precautions among the countries with low and stable infections. There may be some benefits for vaccinated travelers in terms of shorter quarantine times, ”the minister said.
“But for the most part… none of this will match what we had before Covid. So I’m afraid that air travel will take some time to recover, ”added Wong.
Zoom In Icon Arrows pointing outwards
Asia, where the coronavirus was first detected, has seen an increase in infections in recent months. Places from developing countries – such as such India and Nepal – In more developed economies such as Japan and Taiwan, there has been a resurgence in cases.
Singapore also saw a renewed surge in cases last month after previous success in containing the outbreak – prompting the government to Tighten social distancing measures.
Wong said these measures had worked and that allowed the country to Gradually loosen restrictions again. But he warned that the situation could be unpredictable.
“You know, with this virus, you can never tell what will happen in the next few days because… there will always be surprises. It’s a very tricky virus. Every time you think you have it under control, it emerges in a new direction, “said Wong.
The minister reiterated the government’s goal to have at least 50% of the population fully vaccinated by August.
Singapore seems on track to achieve this goal. Around 2.7 million people – or 47% of the country’s population – received at least the first dose of the Covid vaccine on Monday, according to data current data from the Ministry of Health.