Hong Kong and Singapore to, finally, start air bubble

Hong Kong and Singapore to, finally, start air bubble

Hong Kong and Singapore will announce a start to their highly anticipated two-way air travel bubble as soon as Today.

This according to people familiar with the matter, after multiple delays.

The number of flights will be increased by June 26 if there aren’t further outbreaks in either city, one of the people said.

Hong Kong and Singapore have been working on the creation of a travel corridor for months after plans for a November start were shelved due to a virus flareup in the Chinese territory.

A plan to announce its revival last week was also canceled at the last minute by the Singapore side, a spoke person said.

The Hong Kong government said a discussion with Singapore on the re-launch “is at an advance stage and the government will make announcement as soon as practicable.”

Singapore’s transport ministry referred Bloomberg News to its most recent press release on the matter.

Singapore last week said the two cities had not fixed a date to announce the resumption of the bubble.

But “will do so once we are ready, hopefully very soon.”

While Covid-19 cases in the two places pale in comparison to many countries.

Strict requirements for the bubble to open meant outbreaks that would be regarded as small elsewhere were enough to halt progress.

Virus flare-ups in Hong Kong were the main reason for the months of delays.

Now, after stemming a March outbreak centered on a gym, Hong Kong has been reporting only a handful of new infections a day, or low double-digits at most.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on April 12 that the virus was “obviously contained” in the city and encouraged more people to get vaccinated.

Dangling the prospect of looser rules on social distancing for those who were inoculated.

Source: Channel News Asia

Australia and Singapore in talks About travel bubble

Australia and Singapore in talks About travel bubble

Australia and Singapore are in talks on a possible travel bubble that will allow residents to travel between both countries without having to quarantine, Singapore confirmed on Sunday (Mar 14).

The two countries are also in discussions on the mutual recognition of vaccination certificates and resuming travel with priority for students and business travelers, Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in response to media queries.

“Australia is a key partner of Singapore in the region. We are in discussions on how to cooperate in opening our economies safely, taking into consideration the COVID-19 situation in both countries,” it said. 

Both countries have been able to keep the COVID-19 pandemic under control, MFA added.

Discussions on a possible Australia – Singapore travel bubble were reported by the Sydney Morning Herald earlier on Sunday.

The report said it could be possible for people from other countries to enter Australia via Singapore after completing two weeks’ quarantine in Singapore.

MFA said the two countries are not in talks on a quarantine center or vaccination hub.

“Australian nationals can transit via Singapore without quarantining to return home if they travel on approved transit routes and if they comply with our public health protocols while in transit,” it said.

What does the Trade Minister of Australia say?

Sydney Morning Herald also cited Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan as saying he had held discussions with his Singapore counterpart Chan Chun Sing about a travel bubble.

It quoted Mr. Tehan as saying that Singapore is keen to work with Australia on a vaccination certificate and that both ministers agreed to work together on this.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said Australia was “working with Singapore at the moment potentially for a bubble (beginning) in July”.

“As the vaccine rolls out, not only in Australia but in other countries, we will reopen more bubbles,” he told public broadcaster ABC.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce in Singapore welcomed the talks on a possible travel corridor.

“This is great news for business and for Singaporeans and Australians alike,” the chamber’s president Chris Coburn told CNA.

Source: Channel News Asia

Postponed travel bubble of Singapore and Hong Kong

Postponed travel bubble of Singapore and Hong Kong

Singapore said it’s in “close discussions” with Hong Kong over a postponed travel bubble.

“We will announce more details when ready,” Daniel Ng, director of air transport at the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, said in an emailed reply to questions.

The South China Morning Post reported Saturday that both cities are mulling extra safeguard measures for such an arrangement, adding that it’s still too early to say when it would begin.

The Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble, originally slated to begin in November last year, was postponed after a surge of new coronavirus infections in Hong Kong.

When the plan was put on hold, Hong Kong’s rolling seven-day average of unlinked cases was 3.86.

It shot up to 16 by the end of November and continued to remain above the stated threshold.

But in the past week, the figure dipped below five. It stood at 4.57 as of Friday.

Dr. Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious diseases specialist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, said it would be safe to start the air travel bubble if the number of unlinked cases remains below five consistently for two to three weeks.

This is taking into account that the incubation period of the virus has been lengthened to almost 21 days, he added.

“As an added precaution, they should ask the individual to be vaccinated. The incentive then should be no Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing will be done,” Dr. Leong added.

“Vaccination of travelers can expedite the formation of travel bubbles in a safe manner.”

What other experts think about the travel bubble?

Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said last month that he would rather not set a target on when the air travel bubble can begin.

Under the original arrangement, people traveling between Singapore and Hong Kong can avoid a lengthy quarantine by taking multiple Covid-19 tests.

Both sides agreed to have one flight a day into each city and a quota of 200 travelers per flight.

There were no restrictions on the purpose of travel, and no need for a controlled itinerary.

But travelers are required to meet eligibility criteria, such as staying in either city for 14 consecutive days prior to departure and adhere to border control measures and public health requirements of both cities.

While Hong Kong had imposed stricter restrictions in the past few months, it relaxed social distancing rules in the past week, for the first time since November.

Source: The Star

Young woman traveler traveling into The Masjid Sultan mosque located in Kampong Glam in Singapore city.

STB announce tourism collaboration with Hong Kong

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is collaborating with its counterpart in Hong Kong to offer joint promotional activities to welcome the launch of the air travel bubble between the two destinations.

The partnership launched ahead of the first flights on Nov 22, “demonstrates the close ties between the two destinations as well as a mutual commitment to provide visitors with a safe travel experience”, STB said in a joint announcement with the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) on Wednesday.

Travelers under the air travel bubble will have to take dedicated flights – with a maximum of 200 passengers each way – but will have no restrictions on their travel purpose and do not have to follow a controlled itinerary. 

Details about the STB and the HKTB collaboration

The chief executive Keith Tan said with Singapore’s “strong track record, we are confident that Hong Kong travelers can explore Singapore with a peace of mind”.

HKTB’s CEO Dane Cheng similarly expressed confidence that the territory is ready to welcome visitors.

“Thanks to the united efforts of people in different sectors in stepping up their hygiene measures, we are confident Hong Kong is clean and ready to welcome visitors back,” he said.  

With the resumption of travel between Singapore and Hong Kong, the health and safety of locals and travelers “remain a key priority”, STB and HKTB said.

“Singapore’s SG Clean is a national mark of excellence awarded to businesses across Singapore – including tourism establishments – that meet its high standards of hygiene and sanitization. Meanwhile, the HKTB has rolled out the Anti-Epidemic Hygiene Measures Certification Scheme to ensure that every touchpoint of visitors’ journey is covered with anti-epidemic measures.”

As part of the partnership, the two tourism boards will also undertake joint promotional activities.

The first batch of visitors can look forward to special gifts, such as limited edition face masks that “showcase unique aspects of both cities”, STB and HKTB said.

Travelers flying on the first air travel bubble flights out of both cities on Nov 22 will also be treated to a special in-flight menu that includes local favorites from Singapore and Hong Kong. The menu, curated by Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific, will be available on all air travel bubble flights until the end of the year.