With borders closing world-wide last year, most of us are probably itching to travel again. Aspirational jet-setters may be happy to know that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. As more countries begin on their vaccination efforts, discussions are starting around establishing a COVID-19 vaccine passport. This would help to facilitate international travel, although details are still murky.
We cut through all the chatter online and share the top things you need to know about the vaccine passport and what to expect.
What is the Vaccine Passport?
Similar to how our passports are a trusted proof of our identity, the vaccine passport will reliably prove our vaccination status and possibly COVID-19 negative test results. It is likely that Singapore will have both an app and a physical version, so that it’s convenient for all.
What is most important is that the stored information cannot be faked, to prevent cross-border outbreaks.
How will the Vaccine Passport work?
The passport will smoothen checks at Immigration, since all vaccination and test results are collected in one secure place.
Additionally, with the passport certifying your ‘safe’ status, you may be granted freer travel across borders with looser restrictions. One such example is avoiding a quarantine period after landing. That’s good news, since most of us can’t spare 14 days of leave to be stuck in a hotel room.
When will the Vaccine Passport be ready?
There currently is no fixed date, although we may be able to look forward to travel in the second half of the year. Singapore is currently in discussions with Australia on a vaccine passport. We may also get to say “Hi!” to our neighbours soon, as Singapore has started talks with Malaysia on mutual recognition of vaccine certs as well.
Another significant step forward is the successful pilot of the International Air Travel Association (IATA) app in March. The app stores traveller’s COVID-19 test results, easing check-in and on-arrival processes. From 1 May, travellers flying into Singapore can use the app to prove their COVID-19 negative status.
Will the Vaccine Passport be recognised worldwide?
Most of Singapore’s agreements with other countries are on a bilateral basis. This means that unlike our travel passports which provide easy entry to most countries, the vaccine passport grants fuss-free travel to only some destinations.
This is because the COVID-19 situation, including case management and vaccination roll-out, differs across countries. Hence, we have to be comfortable and confident in each other’s systems before agreeing to loosened travel restrictions. As you can imagine, this is probably extremely complicated to arrange between two countries, much less across the whole globe!
So while that “Around the World in 80 days” adventure still has to be on hold, it may not be too long till we can step out of our sunny island’s shores again. Until then, let’s continue to practice safe-distancing measures and sign up for vaccination, if you are eligible.