More good news for travel simplicity in the region, with the Government of Australia confirming that it is lifting all COVID-19 border restrictions on Wednesday 6th July 2022, allowing unvaccinated foreign travellers to enter the country and removing the requirement to complete a Digital Passenger Declaration prior to departure.
This marks the end of Australia’s COVID-19 border restrictions, first implemented over two years ago on 20th March 2020, as the pandemic took hold, though national carrier Qantas will continue to insist on all its international passengers being fully vaccinated.
In summary, from 6th July 2022:
- Passengers travelling to Australia will no longer be required to provide evidence of vaccination.
- Unvaccinated visa holders, including foreign tourists, will not require a travel exemption.
- Passengers will not be required to complete the Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD).
- Passengers departing Australia will not be required to provide evidence of their vaccination status.
Australia started reopening its borders to its own citizens and permanent residents in November 2021, also allowing some other nationalities including Singapore Citizens to enter, with vaccination and testing mandates in place.
Vaccination requirement removed
Under this new border policy, those arriving in Australia from 0.01am (AEST) on Wednesday 6th July 2022 will no longer be required to declare their vaccination status prior to departure.
While unvaccinated Australian citizens have been free to return to the country, unvaccinated foreign travellers have been required to obtain an exemption for specific reasons. This will no longer apply from Wednesday.
Elsewhere in Asia-Pacific there is also no requirement for visitors to be fully vaccinated to make quarantine-free trips to Vietnam (no PDT), the Maldives (no PDT), South Korea (with a PDT), Thailand (with a PDT) or Laos (with a PDT).
Mask-wearing will still be mandated on inbound international flights to Australia. In any event, it also remains a requirement for all inbound and outbound flights from Singapore.
Qantas will retain its vaccine mandate
If you’re travelling to Australia on Qantas, do note that the airline requires all passengers aged 18 or over who are medically eligible to be fully vaccinated, regardless of their nationality, when travelling on its international flights.
Qantas has announced that it will be retaining its current vaccination policy, despite the relaxation by the Australian Government from 6th July, saying it had “no immediate plans” to reverse the vaccination mandate, first implemented in 2021.
That means if you are flying to Australia with Qantas, you’ll still need to be fully vaccinated with at least the primary course of a TGA-approved or recognised vaccine, having received the final dose at least seven days before you travel.
The airline recently changed its mask policy for international flights, shifting from a blanket mask mandate on all services to a policy based on the regulations of the destination country (e.g. for Perth – London, mask-wearing is not a requirement, but for Perth – Singapore, it remains).
It will be interesting to see how long Qantas retains its ‘double-jab’ mandate for international passengers, in light of the latest relaxations.
The DPD is dead, for now
In more good news, travellers will no longer be required to complete Australia’s Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) prior to departure when travelling to the country, if arriving from 0.01am (AEST) on Wednesday 6th July 2022 onwards.
The DPD was announced in September 2021 and launched in February this year, replacing Australia’s passenger arrival form. It requires the vaccination details for each passenger travelling prior to entry, and is verified by check-in staff at the origin airport.
The Australian Government has admitted that the form is difficult to use, leading to this suspension.
In future, however, the DPD will be back and should incorporate visa details and customs declarations for all arriving passengers.
Arrival testing in South Australia
If you are arriving into Adelaide on an international flight, you will unfortunately still be subject to the last remaining on-arrival test requirement in Australia, with the state requiring you to:
- have a RAT (ART) test on arrival and isolate until you receive a negative result
- monitor your health for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days after arrival
Arrival testing in South Australia is regardless of your vaccination status.
Singapore – Australia flights
Based on schedules in the first week of August 2022, there are 189 passenger flights per week between Singapore Changi Airport and eight Australian cities, operated by five different airlines.
Singapore – Australia Flights
|Destination / Airline||Total
This represents around 70% of pre-COVID flight volumes between Singapore and Australia.
Singapore Airlines and SilkAir flew over 3.7 million passengers to and from Australia in 2019, the last full year before the pandemic, making the carrier the third-largest airline for international passenger traffic to and from the country, after Qantas and Jetstar.
Of course there’s nowhere near enough demand simply between Singapore and Australia to justify over 10,000 seats each day – around 2.6 million of the airline’s Australia passengers (70%) were in transit through the carrier’s Changi hub, to and from key connecting points in Europe, India and South East Asia.
In late June, Qantas became the second airline to fly the Airbus A380 between Singapore and Australia, with daily Sydney flights also connecting to and from London.
If you’re arriving into Australia on or before 5th July 2022, you must still meet all the relevant vaccination requirements and submit a Digital Passenger Declaration, but from 6th July 2022 onwards both mandates are being scrapped.
That will bring travel to Australia back to the pre-COVID experience, with the small exception of South Australia, which still insists on an arrival test.
However, do note that if you are flying in on Qantas the requirement to be fully vaccinated is not being dropped, with the airline retaining its ‘no jab, no fly’ policy for the time being.
There’s certainly no shortage of options for flying from Singapore to Australia at the moment, with nearly 190 weekly services on offer, around 70% of pre-pandemic capacity.
(Cover Photo: Melbourne Airport)