Hong Kong and Singapore Launch Travel Bubble

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Hong Kong Singapore Travel Bubble. Photo Credit: The Fullerton Hotel. 

COVID-19:

The long-awaited Hong Kong Singapore Travel Bubble will go into effect on 26 May 2021. Under the scheme, travel between the two cities will resume in a “gradual and orderly manner”. Initially, there will only be one flight carrying 200 passengers in each direction.

Air Travel Bubble

With a decline in the number of local COVID-19 transmissions in both Hong Kong and Singapore, the governments of the two cities have agreed to create an air travel bubble.

Under the Air Travel Bubble (ATB) agreement,  travelers between the two cities will not have to undergo compulsory quarantine upon arrival in the other city providing they meet certain requirements.

To begin with, Singapore Airlines and Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways will operate one flight per day in one direction.

In other words, one airline will operate a flight departing from Singapore for Hong Kong. And the airline will operate a flight departing from Hong Kong for Singapore.

On the following day, the airlines will operate flights in the opposite direction.

If the coronavirus situation remains stable in both cities for two weeks, the number of flights will be doubled. In other words, both airlines will fly daily flights in both directions.

Both governments will closely monitor the situation. And a spike in the number of locally transmitted cases could result in the suspension of the agreement.

If it is successful, it could be extended to other travel destinations. And Australia and New Zealand are likely contenders.

Who Qualifies

Regardless of nationality, anyone in either Hong Kong or Singapore will be able to travel between the two cities. And they will not be required to undergo quarantine in either city.

In order to encourage Hong Kong residents to be vaccinated against COVID-19, travelers from Hong Kong are required to have taken their second vaccine dose two weeks before leaving for Singapore.

However, there are three exceptions:

  • Anyone not having reached 16 years of age;
  • People who have been advised not to be vaccinated for medical reasons;
  • Those who are not Hong Kong residents.

Singapore is not imposing this requirement on its own travelers. However, migrant workers in Singapore holding work permits or S-passes employed in the construction, marine shipyard, or process sectors are not eligible for the bubble.

To clarify, many of them live in crowded dormitories. And they account for fully 94% of Singapore’s COVID-19 infectees.

Otherwise,  travelers must  meet the following criteria to qualify:

  • They must not have traveled outside of Hong Kong or Singapore for 14 days before departure.
  • Any time spent in compulsory quarantine in either city will not count towards that 14-day period.
  • Travelers must test negative for COVID-19 both before departure and upon arrival. 
  • They can only fly on designated flights.
  • Travelers from Hong Kong to Singapore must download, register, and use Singapore’s TraceTogether mobile application.
  • Travelers from Singapore to Hong Kong must download and use Hong Kong’s s LeaveHomeSafe (LHS) mobile application. And their records will be retained for 31 days after departure from Hong Kong.

This travel bubble was originally announced in late 2020. And inaugural flights were scheduled to begin on 22 November. However, the deal was put on hold following a spike in transmissions in Hong Kong.

Should there be a spike in the number of local transmissions in either city, the agreement would most likely be postponed or suspended.

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