Visa holders from Singapore could soon be allowed to enter Australia as the country prepares to open its international borders in the coming months, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday.
“We are in the final stages of completing an arrangement with the Singapore government,” he told reporters, according to a transcript of his remarks. “Some months ago, I met with the Prime Minister of Singapore … to set up a new arrangement which will see our borders open more quickly to Singapore.”
“We anticipate that being able to be achieved within the next week or so as we would open up to more visa class holders coming out of Singapore,” Morrison added.
The prime minister did not specify when tourists from the city-state would be allowed into Australia as visa holders can also mean students, business travelers and skilled migrants.
Starting next month fully vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families will be allowed to enter Sydney from overseas, without needing to quarantine.
Australia will gradually allow more non-resident visitors into the country, including students and business travelers, skilled migrants and eventually tourists, Morrison said Friday.
“I’m confident that because of the way we have prepared for this day, that that is very possible and very achievable before the end of the year to be getting to international visitors,” he added.
Australia achieved an important milestone this week with 70% of people above the age of 16 now fully vaccinated. Morrison’s government introduced a transition plan in July that said it wants to fully vaccinate between 70% and 80% of the population before easing international border restrictions.
Flag carrier Qantas said it will resume flights between Sydney and Singapore from the end of November.
Elsewhere, Melbourne eased Covid restrictions on Friday. Australia’s second-largest city endured nearly nine months of restrictions during six separate lockdowns since March of 2020.
Singapore’s Covid situation
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong welcomed the announcement from Down Under.
“Delighted to hear that Australia will be allowing entry to visa holders from Singapore,” Lee wrote in a Facebook post, adding he had encouraged Morrison to do so when the Australian leader visited Singapore in June.
“Singapore and Australia have robust economic and investment links, and warm people-to-people ties. Look forward to resuming close connectivity between our countries,” Lee said.
Singapore has been experiencing a relatively high number of Covid cases in recent weeks — but the health ministry says most infections are either asymptomatic or patients are showing only mild symptoms. Still, it warned that the city-state’s hospitals are “under significant pressure and strain.”
Singapore’s vaccination rate is at 84%. The country has two-way quarantine-free travel arrangements with a number of nations, including the U.S, U.K., Germany and South Korea.