Asian Travel: Hong Kong-Singapore Travel Bubble to Open

Asian Travel: Hong Kong-Singapore Travel Bubble to Open

A quarantine-free air travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore is finally slated to get off the ground with a start date of 26 May, following setbacks that led to the plan initially being shelved last November.

Largely shut off from the rest of the world during the pandemic, the two sides have been in talks for months to revive the travel corridor. Preparations for the travel corridor between the two major financial hubs have stuttered ever since it was shelved in November after coronavirus cases picked up in Hong Kong. 

If it goes ahead, this travel bubble will be the second major air route in the region to open after Australia and New Zealand resumed flights last week.

It has been a long few months, but the conditions are now ripe again. Both sides will need to stay very vigilant in the next month so that we can launch the first flights smoothly.

Singapore’s Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said in a statement.

Rules of Travel

The Air Travel Bubble (ATB) will begin cautiously with just one flight a day in each direction carrying a maximum of 200 passengers for the first 2 weeks.

All passengers departing from Hong Kong are required to be fully vaccinated 14 days before travelling, while passengers from Singapore do not have the same requirement. All passengers from both cities are expected to take a COVID-19 test within 3 days of departure and again on arrival.

The bubble will be suspended for at least 2 weeks if the seven-day moving average of unlinked community cases in either city increases to more than 5.

Travellers from both cities will be required to download each other’s contact-tracing app prior to their departure.

Our goal remains striking a right balance between public health and travel convenience so that the public will feel assured while providing certainty.

Edward Yau, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development

Travellers from other countries who have arrived in either Hong Kong or Singapore and hope to utilize the travel bubble must have been in either Hong Kong or Singapore for at least 14 days after completing their initial quarantine period before flying to the other jurisdiction. 

Status of Both Cities Amidst the Pandemic

Hong Kong and Singapore are two major business hubs in Asia. Many Westerners tout both cities as paragons of the free-market economy.

Despite occasional flare-ups, including at a dormitory for migrant workers in Singapore last week, the COVID-19 infection rate in both cities are low and life is returning to normal. 

Hong Kong may reopen bars later this week and lengthen restaurant opening hours, among other steps to ease social distancing. Bringing outbreaks under control was key to opening the travel bubble.

To date, around 11% of Hong Kong’s population has received at least a first vaccine dose. Roughly 5.7% of the population are fully vaccinated. The city currently allows anyone above 16 to get vaccinated.

Singapore is using the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. So far, it has given 2.2 million shots and 14.9% of the population, have been vaccinated. In Singapore, vaccinations are open to those aged 45 and over.

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