Singapore will allow entry from Brunei and New Zealand starting 1 September – subject to Covid-19 testing – in a move applauded by the Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group and trade associations.

Travellers from both countries will be exempt from a 14-day quarantine and instead undergo Covid-19 testing at the airport upon arrival, provided they were in either country for 14 consecutive days prior.

They will only be allowed to enter Singapore after receiving a negative test result, the health ministry said in a 21 August statement.

Should they require medical treatment for Covid-19 while in Singapore, travellers will have to bear the cost.

The health ministry adds that seven to 30 days before entering Singapore, travellers from both nations will need to apply for a document known as an “air travel pass”. Application for the document opens from 1 September for travel dates from 8 September, and Singapore’s transport ministry will provide more details this week.

Accordingly, Singapore will update its travel advisory to allow general travel to Brunei and New Zealand.

Returning Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term visit pass holders are subject to the same testing procedure, but do not need to seek prior approval.

Other updates announced on 21 August include halving the quarantine duration for travellers from countries or regions Singapore deems to be low-risk. These are Malaysia, Vietnam, Macau, mainland China, Taiwan, and Australia, excluding the state of Victoria, and travellers will have to undergo Covid-19 testing before the end of a seven-day quarantine.

Separately, students will be allowed to travel overseas for their studies if distance-learning is not offered by their institution.

“Singapore’s border measures will evolve as the global situation changes,” says the health ministry.

It adds: “If the situation in a country/region deteriorates, more stringent measures will be put in place to limit the risk of importation and prevent community transmission from imported cases.”

SIA Group welcomed the move and said in a 21 August statement that it is an important step towards the gradual rebuilding of Singapore’s air hub.

“The recovery of air travel and airfreight is a necessary catalyst for the recovery of global trade and economies severely impacted by Covid-19,” it says.

It adds: “The SIA Group’s top priority is the health and safety of all our customers, staff and the communities that we operate in. We will work closely with the authorities to safeguard these in every area of our operations.”

In the same vein, IATA emphasised aviation’s role in ensuring global connectivity, and the Singapore government’s recognition of its role in the local economy.

“Today’s announcement is positive and a step in the right direction,” says Conrad Clifford, IATA’s regional vice president for Asia-Pacific.

“We hope to work closely with the government so that Singapore’s aviation industry can restart safely while mitigating the possibility of Covid-19 transmission. And we urge other states in the region to look at ways to resume international travel safely, including through the implementation of travel bubbles.”

Likewise, Subhas Menon, the director general of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA), said in a statement on 24 August: “The AAPA applauds the Singapore government’s efforts to restart air travel in a safe yet progressive way. Adopting a testing regime without onerous quarantine requirements sets a standard worth emulating in facilitating air travel and economic recovery in the region.”