Unrestricted Travel May Not Resume Soon As Regional Vaccination Rates Are Still Low

As we make conscious steps towards safe reopening, travel surely comes to many people’s minds. Specifically, unrestricted travel, especially after over a year of staying in Singapore.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be on the agenda yet, as evidenced by Finance Minister Lawrence Wong’s answers in a CNBC interview yesterday (16 Jun).

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Due to the fluctuating Covid-19 situation in the region, he expressed doubts that “open and free travel” can happen anytime soon.

Unrestricted travel unlikely to resume anytime soon

As part of the CNBC Evolve Global Summit, Mr Wong discussed Singapore’s financial and Covid-19 situations.

With regard to air travel, in particular, he mentioned that he was “less sanguine” or hopeful about the prospects.

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Since the region is still experiencing waves of infection, returning to pre-pandemic levels of travel soon seems very unlikely.

Mr Wong noted the vaccination rates in countries across the region as “still not high enough”, which adds to the reason for the delay.

Hence, regional air travel will possibly need a much longer recovery time.

Singapore in talks with more stable countries

The only comfort for now perhaps is the possibility of making travel arrangements with countries that have low and stable infections.

Mr Wong didn’t name them explicitly, but stated that “there are quite a number in the region”.

Discussions, however, are still ongoing, so we’d have to wait for further updates.

Once the plans are firmed up, Singapore will likely be able to establish safe, 2-way travel lanes with those countries.

Covid-19 safety measures have mostly been effective

Addressing the local situation, Mr Wong acknowledged that the virus is a tricky one, often springing surprises on us.

But he thinks that the measures to contain the recent outbreak have been effective, citing a general fall in infection rates.

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And while we’re reopening cautiously, he raised the hope of fully inoculating at least half the population by Aug, which would boost the authorities’ confidence to ease restrictions further.

Let’s take it slow & steady

Knowing just how unpredictable Covid-19 can be, let’s not be in such a hurry to return everything to pre-pandemic levels at once.

We must ensure that the situation around the world is safe enough first, for everybody’s welfare.

So, let’s hope that we’ll make good progress in due time before we can contemplate the next steps.

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Featured image adapted from CNBC Evolve and @shawnanggg on Unsplash.