China, Singapore Plan Covid-19 'Bubble' for Essential Travel - VOA News

Planes jetting between Singapore and China next week will be carrying some of the first passengers of the two nations’ “Covid-19 travel “bubble.” Before then flights linked to China were starting to become a political matter, as the nation took issue with places from the United States to Vietnam for canceling travel in the wake of the virus emergency.

A new world of travel

Passengers have to be sponsored by a government agency or a company and were able to start applying for the “fast lane” for essential travel on Monday, according to Singapore’s trade and foreign ministries. Approval means residents can travel between China and Singapore without a quarantine if they test negative for the virus and follow other rules.  

Flights had become yet another global flashpoint of the Covid-19 chaos, particularly in the already tense relations between the world’s two biggest economies. The U.S. was like most nations that had suspended flights from China to curb the virus, but tensions escalated this month when both sides moved to restrict airlines from the other nation. Both sides have since eased up on the planned restrictions.

Signs of economic life

The joint decision by China and Singapore to allow some travel also eases up on virus-related limits. “It will be a long while before life returns to near normal, but we are beginning to see some light,” the Singapore Minister of Transport Khaw Boon Wan said of the plan to increase flights, via a Facebook post. “However, recreational travel will have to take a back seat for now.”

The limited flights are mostly meant for business and official travel. With the coronavirus spreading around the world from the start of the year, international travel has plummeted to near oblivion. However some nations that were able to curb the spread have struck agreements with