Resuming general air travel to cities with low incidences of COVID-19 is important to restore Singapore’s global connectivity, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Thursday (12 November).
Mr Heng remarks came after Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung announced on Wednesday (11 November) that air travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong will commence on 22 November.
This scheme will allow visitors from both countries to be exempted from quarantine order or Stay-Home Notice (SHN). Instead, they will have to undergo a COVID-19 test and provide a negative result within 72 hours before departure.
Mr Ong said the scheme will first be limited to one flight per day into each city with a capacity of 200 travellers per flight, and is expected to increase to two flights a day from 7 December.
Following that, Mr Heng took to his Facebook earlier today saying that Singapore is now able to gradually re-open borders and resume activities safely, considering that the nation’s COVID-19 situation has been “stabilising”.
“Resuming general air travel to cities with low incidences of COVID-19 is key to restoring our global connectivity, and to reviving our aviation, aerospace and tourism sectors. Many jobs and businesses are at stake,” he wrote.
Mr Heng noted that the government has taken “an important step” while the country “moves towards a new normal for air travel”, adding that he looks forward to “welcoming more visitors at Changi Airport”.
“As we open up our borders and head towards Phase 3, we must continue to expand our testing capacity, strengthen contact tracing and remain vigilant,” the Minister wrote.
“This way, we can gradually resume a sense of normalcy while keeping out new waves of infections,” he continued.
SIA launches non-stop flights to US’ New York, country with the world’s highest number of COVID-19 cases
While the Minister stressed the importance of “resuming general air travel to cities with low incidences of COVID-19” to restore Singapore’s global connectivity, Singapore Airlines (SIA), on the other hand, has opened flights to United States’ New York on 9 November.
The United States (US), however, has the world’s highest number of COVID-19 cases.
The country reported 10,708,728 total cases and 247,398 death tolls at the time of writing, according to Worldometer’s statistics.
Despite the high number of cases reported in the US, SIA stated on 20 October that it will start three weekly non-stop flights to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on 9 November, amid “early signs of optimism about a recovery in air travel”.
The airline said in a press release that the flights will accommodate “a mix of passenger and cargo traffic” on its services to New York. Additionally, the flights will also cater to the growing number of transfer passengers who are allowed to transit via Changi Airport.
Business Insider reported on Wednesday (11 November) that SIA’s non-stop flight, also known as “the world’s longest flight”, has “just quietly touched down” in New York on 11 November.
Meanwhile, many netizens were baffled with SIA’s decision to launch the non-stop flights to New York now, with some even expressed that they feel pity for the cabin crew on board the flights as it may risk them of getting infected with the virus.