S'porean founder of travel website MileLion to fly to Germany, but others apprehensive about making the trip

SINGAPORE – Despite Germany announcing a record 8,324 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday (Aug 18), Mr Aaron Wong booked a flight to Munich the next day, just 15 minutes after Singapore revealed a travel scheme for fully vaccinated travellers.

The 33-year-old Singaporean founder of travel hacks website MileLion said he is not worried as “Germany’s fully vaccinated population is over 58 per cent and continuing to increase”.

“Germany is the first realistic opportunity for leisure travel in more than 18 months,” added Mr Wong, who had completed his Moderna vaccine jabs on July 23.

From Sept 8, fully vaccinated Singapore residents can travel to Germany and back without having to serve stay-home notice (SHN).

But they will have to undergo four Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, including one to be taken before the flight.

It will be the first time residents can go for a quarantine-free leisure trip since the Republic shut its borders in March last year.

Although Singapore will unilaterally open its borders to vaccinated travellers from Germany as well as Brunei, Brunei is still closed to leisure travel.

Mr Wong, who had considered other destinations such as Hong Kong, said: “While other places like New Zealand and Macau are SHN-free (when returning here), they aren’t open to tourists.”

He plans to take the opportunity to review and write about the Munich airport, airline and hotel experiences in Germany in the midst of Covid-19.

Mr Wong plans to avoid crowded places and minimise his time spent indoors, adding that he will purchase travel insurance as well.

He will be leaving on Sept 9, catching the 7.05am flight on Singapore Airlines.

Ms Cherie Zhang, 27, hopes that the travel scheme will soon include more countries so that she can meet her fiance in the Netherlands. She has been in a long-distance relationship with him since 2016.

“I haven’t seen him since I came back from a work trip to the Netherlands in January this year. I hope that this scheme will be expanded to more countries so that I can meet my fiance again,” said the finance professional, who will not be booking any air tickets just yet.

Ms Zhang, who is fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, added: “I believe that if individuals are careful with safe distancing measures and wear medical-grade masks properly, the risk of infection can be lower.

“As we move to the endemic phase, we should have to accept a small level of uncertainty, but it should get better as more people become vaccinated worldwide.”

According to media reports, the Netherlands has been reporting in excess of 2,000 new cases on average each day. More than 75 per cent of the country’s population is fully vaccinated.

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However, others are apprehensive about the potential risks involved in travelling now.

“I was definitely very excited (about this scheme). But I knew at the back of my mind that I couldn’t go just yet as I am apprehensive about work commitments travelling during a pandemic and the risk of Covid-19 exposure in Germany,” said Ms Gayle Quah, a lecturer in her 40s who is fully vaccinated.

Social worker Yong Zheng Xiong, 27, is also worried about cases spiking in Germany, even though he has been waiting for a chance to travel since last year.

“I’m worried about Covid-19 measures that may change at the last minute due to rising cases there, and there’s also a chance of getting a false positive result when testing for the virus.

“I wouldn’t want to be unnecessarily inconvenienced,” said Mr Yong, who is fully vaccinated.

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The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said the new arrangement to allow for fully vaccinated travellers comes under a scheme called Vaccinated Travel Lanes.

CAAS said an individual is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after he has received the full regimen of the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty or Moderna vaccine, or other vaccines in the World Health Organisation’s Emergency Use Listing.

They must have been fully vaccinated in their country of departure or Singapore.

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