Travel Bubbles in Asia Pacific [COVID-19 Live Update]
A travel bubble is a bilateral arrangement between countries to ease border restrictions and allow quarantine-free air travel during the pandemic. Let's take a closer look at those "green lanes" that seem to be the future of travel in the post-covid world.
We update this page as the official statements from governments are being released. For general COVID-19-related health advice please visit the WHO website.
Travel bubble (also: air bridge, corona corridor, green lane, COVID-safe travel zone) is a bilateral arrangement between countries to ease border restrictions and allow quarantine-free travel during the coronavirus outbreak.
In the times of pandemic international travel typically requires two weeks of quarantine or self-isolation – to see if any COVID-19 symptoms appear. While it may work for people returning home or with plans of long-term staying at a destination, 14 days of isolation is not acceptable for most travelers and it basically kills the tourism at the destination.
First travel bubbles were opened between Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia in The European Union, and the Re-open EU project has been created with up to date list of countries for which travel restrictions should be lifted. It was followed by the first Asian green lane connecting Singapore and China. More countries are expected to join these international circles of trust as levels of contagion begin to decline.
Travel bridges seem to be the future of travel in the post-pandemic world. They provide hope for a resumption of travel in the post-pandemic world, allowing international commerce and tourism to return. Reciprocal green lane agreements take time though, as it means that there must be mutual assurances of each other’s test protocols, standards, and coronavirus-related regulations. This confidence in each other’s safeguards allows for simplified procedures for travelers, including one-time-only tests and health checks.
The result may ricochet though in a form of new divisions along epidemiological lines, with the countries where the coronavirus has not been fully contained, left behind.
Asia’s 'travel bubbles' could change travelling post-pandemic (Al Jazeera)
Australia reopens borders with New Zealand. From 16 October 2020, New Zealand citizens and residents will be allowed to enter Australia's state of New South Wales - without having to undergo the 14-days quarantine.
Travel to other countries (as long as they are considered "safe") may also be allowed - with Israel aiming to join a travel corridor with Australia by December 2020. The direct flights to Tel-Aviv would allow Australian residents to transit to European countries deemed safe without having to quarantine for 14 days.
The air corridor exists between China and South Korea for business and official travel. It requires to undergo a short quarantine and at least one negative coronavirus test in each country.
Essential travel for business and official purposes are allowed between China and Singapore starting June. All travelers have to take a Covid-19 test within five days before their flight and test negative for the coronavirus.
Four weekly flights between China and United States.
Planned travel bubbles with Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.
A green lane with Singapore is in place since October 2020. All travelers have to take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours before their flight, then the second test upon arrival at the airport. Eligible applicants from Indonesia must have a sponsor from a government agency or companies in Singapore and request for a SafeTravel pass
Because of the high level of new coronavirus cases in Indonesia, planned travel bubbles with China, Australia, South Korea, and Japan have been suspended.
Australia had plans to reopen borders with New Zealand with first trial flights taking off by September 2020. The "Trans-Tasman bubble" would allow citizens of each country to travel to the other without a quarantine or a test. In early August, a coronavirus outbreak in the Australian state of Victoria put those plans on hold.
A green lane has been established to allow essential travel for business and official purposes between Singapore and China, Malaysia, Brunei, South Korea, Japan, and Indonesia. All travelers have to take a Covid-19 test before their flight and test negative for the coronavirus. The second test will take place upon arrival at the airport.
Talks are underway with South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada to establish covid-safe corridors for air travel.
The Thai government considers creating travel bubbles when Thailand’s borders are reopened. Reciprocal green lanes with Japan are planned.
Thailand had hoped to open reciprocal green lanes for travelers from nearby countries with low virus rates (Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea) to visit without requiring self-quarantines on arrival. New recent waves of the virus canceled those plans.