The launch of an air travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong has been deferred for two weeks after a spike in COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong, Singapore’s Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Saturday afternoon (Nov 21).
“Given the evolving situation in Hong Kong, (Mr) Yau and I discussed further this afternoon and decided that it would be better to defer the launch of the air travel bubble by two weeks,” Mr Ong said.
In a move to reconnect the two cities after months of border closures and replace quarantine with COVID-19 testing, Hong Kong and Singapore will now start an air travel bubble (ATB) from 6 December. The scheme will start with one flight a day into each city with a quota of 200 travellers per flight.
As part of the air travel bubble, travellers between Hong Kong and Singapore will have to take COVID-19 tests, in lieu of serving quarantine or stay-home notices. Quarantine is eliminated for both sides under the deal, while airlines must operate dedicated routes on which transit passengers are not allowed. Travellers can move freely in either city and do not have to provide a pre-determined itinerary.
The arrangement will be suspended for two weeks if the seven-day moving average of the daily number of unlinked COVID-19 cases is more than five in either Singapore or Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is now also seeking to form travel bubbles with 10 other countries including Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, and several European countries. Singapore has made special travel arrangements with 10 countries from across the globe. Apart from air travel bubbles, there are also other schemes in place, such as bilateral green lane arrangements which are for essential business and official travel, as well as unilateral border openings.