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World first as Hong Kong Singapore travel bubble approved

November 14, 2020 Visit ASEAN No Comments Email Email

While the much talked about travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand seems to have stalled, Hong Kong and Singapore will be linked on November 22. According to the South China Morning Post, the number of people allowed to move quarantine-free in each direction will be initially limited to 200 per day.

The deal for the world’s first leisure travel bubble was negotiated between the two cities over the course of about two months as Covid-19 infections elsewhere in the world soared to more than 50 million cases and 1.3 million deaths. Travellers from both cities must take designated bubble flights and fulfil certain conditions and requirements, including undergoing up to three Covid-19 tests at various stages of the journey.

“This policy is not easy to come by,” said Edward Yau Tang-wah, Hong Kong’s commerce and economic development secretary. “Whether the bubble can work and sustain [itself] well will depend on cooperation from all sides, including the participation of residents and their efforts in maintaining social distancing.”

Ong Ye Kung, Singapore’s transport minister, said: “This is as close as it gets to cross-border travel pre-Covid-19, and this is only possible because both Singapore and Hong Kong have successfully controlled the spread of Covid-19.”

Goh Choon Phong, Singapore Airlines (SIA) CEO, hailed the bubble arrangement, saying: “It paves the way for us to open up in a safe and calibrated way with the necessary testing protocols in place, and provides a promising model for other bilateral arrangements around the world.”

At the start of the scheme, there will be one flight a day into each city carrying 200 passengers, with Cathay Pacific and SIA operating alternating flights after the launch day. From December 7, the number of flights into each city will be increased to two daily.

The travel bubble will be suspended if the daily average number of untraceable Covid-19 cases in a week reaches more than five in either city. When that figure drops below five again, the bubble will resume.

To access the travel corridor, a passenger from Hong Kong to Singapore must take a coronavirus test no more than 72 hours before departure at a recognised clinic or testing centre.

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