Australia will prioritize the travel of Singaporean students pursuing or completing studies in the country. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday students would be the first to board planes once a travel bubble between the two countries is established.
Morrison said during a joint news conference after his meeting with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that the travel bubble would be implemented "when both sides are ready." Morrison said he and the Singaporean prime minister discussed details of how to implement the two-way travel bubble safely.
Lee said the two will "start small" as the appropriate infrastructure and safety measures had to be set up first.
"We need to prepare the infrastructure and processes to get ready to do this. It starts with mutual recognition of health and vaccination certificates, possibly in a digital form. When all the preparations are ready, we can start small with an air travel bubble to build confidence on both sides," Lee said.
The exact dates haven't been determined and the two leaders said it was likely "still some time" before it goes into effect. Morrison said they will be giving priority to students from Singapore and then tourists further down the line.
Under the proposed travel bubble, Singapore will be adopting Australia's digital vaccination verification system, which just recently went live.
"And with some encouragement from Prime Minister Lee, we really do want to focus on those students coming...as part of the exercise piloting how these systems can work most effectively when we get to the next phase...but the timing of that is still somewhere away," Morrison said.
The meeting between the two prime ministers is the sixth following initial discussions via video conference in March last year. Morrison's arrival in Singapore earlier in the week is the city's first official visit by a foreign leader since the start of the pandemic.
Both leaders said the timing of the travel bubble would depend on vaccination and transmission rates in the coming months. But the two countries are aiming to establish the bubble "as soon as possible."