S Korea, Singapore discuss July travel bubble

SEOUL (AP) – South Korea is talking with Singapore about opening its first ‘travel bubble’ in July, which would allow vaccinated travellers on direct flights to bypass quarantine.

Health officials said yesterday the country also proposed bubbles with Thailand and the United States (US) Pacific territories of Guam and Saipan as they look to ease pandemic-related travelling restrictions to revive ailing tourism and airline industries.

South Korea currently mandates two-week quarantines on most passengers arriving from abroad.

Senior Health Ministry Official Yoon Taeho said the country will initially open its travel bubbles only to fully vaccinated travellers arriving on direct flights and group tours who could be monitored by their travel agencies.

To bypass quarantine, bubble travellers must have vaccination documents and be cleared by COVID-19 tests upon arrival.

Officials said talks on opening the travel bubbles may not proceed quickly in places where the virus situation is fluctuating. Thailand experienced its worst outbreak of the pandemic in recent weeks, still regularly exceeding 2,000 new cases daily, and Singapore has been dealing with worrisome new clusters.

As of yesterday, some 9.2 million South Koreans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, accounting for about 18 per cent of the country’s population.

Workers stand by on duty at the arrival hall in terminal 3 of Singapore’s Changi Airport. PHOTO: XINHUA