Dan Tehan, Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism, and Investment said a travel bubble between Singapore and Australia is more likely to occur towards the end of 2021.
Mr. Tehan told CNA that certain measures must be put in place before a travel bubble can be launched between the two countries.
“Obviously, we want to see a travel bubble with Singapore, and that’s something that both countries are aiming for,” he said.
It is more likely to take place towards the end of this year, once we make sure both countries can fully implement their vaccination programs.”
Mr. Tehan said other measures, such as vaccine certificates, would also need to be in place.
He added that officials from the two countries would “continue to engage” on the issue.
A potential bubble has been put on hold because of the third wave of COVID-19 in Australia, Mr. Tehan said.
The country reported another record-breaking number of new cases on Monday, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant.
Sydney accounted for almost all of the cases, despite entering its third week of lockdown. A woman in her 90s also died from COVID-19 this year.
Mr. Tehan is making an official visit to Singapore as part of a tour of various countries – including Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, and the United States – to strengthen Australia’s trading relationships.
On Monday, he met with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana and is scheduled to meet with Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong.
Approximately 40 percent of Singapore’s population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. About 11 percent of Australia’s adult population, or 20.5 million, has received both shots of a vaccine.
In March, Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the two countries talked about a possible air travel bubble.
The Australian media reported that the bubble – which could also have included New Zealand as part of a three-way arrangement – would start this year by July or August.
In June, Prime Minister Lee and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the countries were working on resuming air travel in a “safe and calibrated manner.”
Students from Singapore could be given priority to travel to Australia to pursue or complete their studies when the infrastructure is in place for safe travel, they said.
In August, however, a Singapore Airlines executive told the Sydney Morning Herald that the company was no longer considering a timeline for implementing the travel bubble.