After a month of discussion and deliberation, Hong Kong and Singapore have finally settled to inaugurate an air travel bubble set to begin on November 22, officials told the media on Wednesday.
Ong Ye Kung, the Singapore Minister for Transport, said in a news briefing that the agreement would make it the first travel bubble in the world and may be used as a model for other countries. He also hoped that the setup would lead to brighter days ahead for Singapore Airlines and the city-state’s Changi Airport.
“I suspect travelers might well be quite careful in the beginning before they gradually become more confident. I suspect that many Singaporeans and Hong Kongers will take a wait-and-see attitude until after a while, you can do one test less perhaps.”Singapore Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung
According to the guidelines, passengers will have a pass to travel back and forth between the two locations without undergoing a quarantine process upon arrival. To fast-track, they will be mandated to have a COVID-19 test and see if they would yield negative results within 72 hours prior departure.
All travelers who will arrive in Hong Kong must conduct a COVID-19 test upon their arrival at the airport.
Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. will only have an allotted number of flights a week from November 22, and then it is planned to rise daily after December 7. A maximum of 200 people permitted on each flight. The arrangement details released almost a month following two Asian hubs’ announcement is set for another review after a month.
What makes the setup interesting is that there will be no restrictions regarding the reason for travel or any mandated details for an itinerary. But passengers must have no travel history to any location outside of Singapore and Hong Kong within the 14 days leading to the date of departure.
Travel bubbles are expected to deliver a crucial role in deliberately reopening the border as the development of an effective vaccine is still in the works. The writing and novel coronavirus cases have already breached the 51 million-mark while the death toll surpassed 1.2 million.
In mid-October, Hong Kong and Singapore unveiled their plans for a mutual travel bubble agreement. Both cities are trying to recover from the imminent damage the pandemic caused to their tourism-heavy industries.
“While we may be starting small, this is an important step forward. I have no doubt both Singapore and Hong Kong will cooperate fully to make this scheme work. It will be a useful reference for other countries and regions that have controlled the epidemic and are contemplating opening their borders.”Ong Ye Kung