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

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.

Asian businessman wearing suit and face mask sitting on bench with his suitcase luggage in airport terminal. Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak prevention. Health awareness for pandemic protection

Hong Kong travelers need to serve a stay-home notice in Singapore

From next Thursday, travelers from Hong Kong coming to Singapore need only to serve a seven-day stay-home notice in their place of residence instead of two weeks at a dedicated facility, said the Ministry of Health.

This means Hong Kong joins a list of low-risk countries and regions such as mainland China, Macau, Taiwan, and most parts of Malaysia, where travelers from these places are mandated to serve a seven-day stay-home notice period at their residences in Singapore after their arrival.

The authorities also said that, from Oct 15 onwards, people with recent travel history to Sabah, Malaysia will be required to serve a two-week stay-home notice at a dedicated facility here due to the recent increase in cases there.

This will also apply to return Singapore-based travelers under the reciprocal green lane agreements with Malaysia as well as Malaysian citizens and permanent residents entering Singapore under the Periodic Commuting Arrangement.

However, this new two-week stay-home notice rule will not apply to Malaysia-based travelers under the green lanes. They will continue to be subject to existing green-lane health measures, such as a pre-departure test, on-arrival test, and keeping to a pre-declared controlled itinerary.

MOH said: “For now, travelers from all other parts of Malaysia, except Sabah, will continue to serve a seven-day stay-home notice at their place of residence.

Different measures besides the stay-home notice

At the moment, travelers from Australia (excluding Victoria State), Brunei, New Zealand, and Vietnam need to undergo a Covid-19 test upon arrival instead of serving a stay-home notice. Singapore has updated a travel advisory to allow general travel to these countries.

 “Singapore’s border measures will evolve as the global situation changes. We will continue to monitor the global health situation closely and update our border measures in accordance with the public health risk assessment,” MOH said.

Source: Today Online