Following the rising number of COVID-19 infections in Hong Kong, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) announced on Tuesday (1 Dec) that the Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble (ATB) will be further deferred to beyond December 2020.

In a press statement earlier today, CAAS said that both Singapore and Hong Kong have decided to defer the ATB upon reviewing the COVID-19 situation in Hong Kong – in which the local unlinked cases in Hong Kong are still high.

“The exact start date of the ATB arrangement will be reviewed in late December,” it added.

CAAS also advised passengers to contact their airlines regarding their travel plans, adding that both countries “have been in close discussion”, and will provide any update when there are further developments.

Earlier on 21 November, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung had said that the ATB – which was initially set to commence on 22 November – will be deferred for two weeks due to the evolving COVID-19 situation in Hong Kong.

“Given the evolving situation in Hong Kong, Secretary Edward Yau and I discussed further this afternoon, and decided that it would be better to defer the launch of the ATB, by two weeks,” Mr Ong wrote on his Facebook.

He added that the Government will review the new launch date, and provide an update within a fortnight.

“I can fully understand the disappointment and frustration of travellers who have planned their trips. But we think it is better to defer from a public health standpoint,” the Minister added.

Mr Ong also assured that the airlines will be contacting all travellers individually on the deferment.

“This is a sober reminder that the COVID-19 virus is still with us, and even as we fight to regain our normal lives, the journey will be full of ups and downs. But we will press on and look forward to when we can safely launch the ATB,” he asserted.

Hong Kong has seen a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections as the daily cases have risen above 100 in recent days, prompting the authorities to reimposed social distancing measures at some of their strictest levels in the city since the start of the coronavirus pandemic

Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam told reporters that the authorities also plan to increase the current HK$2,000 (S$260) spot fines, and will launch a hotline for residents to report social distancing breaches.

“Police will also play a more proactive role in stopping breaches and going after private venues hosting parties or large gatherings,” she added.

As of Monday (30 Nov), Hong Kong has reported total of 6,315 cases so far, with 109 deaths.

A total of 780 cases have been recorded in the past 14 days, including 694 local cases of which 143 are from unknown sources, according to the city’s Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health.

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