Singapore and Hong Kong have agreed to launch the long-delayed travel bubble between the two cities on 26 May with “more stringent arrangements” in place, both governments announced on Monday (26 Apr).
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) released a statement earlier today, noting that travellers must have remained in either Singapore or Hong Kong in the last 14 days prior to departure, excluding any time spent in quarantine or stay-home notice.
“The ATB will be launched under more stringent arrangements to better safeguard public health and provide greater stability,” it noted.
Travellers from Hong Kong will also have to be fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 before departing for Singapore, except for children and those not suitable for vaccination on medical grounds, as reported by CNA.
Additionally, travellers from Singapore will be required to install Hong Kong’s LeaveHomeSafe app on their mobile devices prior to departure for Hong Kong.
“If the ATB has to be suspended when the seven-day moving average of the unlinked community cases in either Singapore or Hong Kong increases to above five, it can only resume when the COVID situation has stabilized,” said CAAS.
Singapore’s Transport Minister, Ong Ye Kung, noted that each flight will have a cap of 200 passengers a day.
“We are planning to start cautiously with just 200 travellers each day. Notwithstanding, when successfully launched, this will be a unique ATB between two aviation and financial hubs in Asia,” Mr Ong wrote on a Facebook post earlier today.
Dr YK Pang, Chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), said in a statement that HKTB welcomes the agreement between the two countries on relaunching the bilateral Hong Kong-Singapore air travel bubble.
“Relaunching the air travel bubble with Singapore is the first step in Hong Kong’s resumption of international travel, and a milestone for preparing the city for gradually welcoming more visitors back.
“We expect that travellers at the early stage of the launch of the ATB are those who travel for family visits or other essential reasons, and leisure travellers will return successively,” said Dr Pang.
Under this scheme, there will be no restrictions on the purpose of travel and no requirements for a controlled itinerary or sponsorship.
The air travel bubble was initially scheduled to start last November but was deferred after a spike in COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong.
It was reported on 2 April that the Government of Hong Kong has barred Singapore Airlines (SIA) passenger flights to land in Hong Kong from 3 April to 16 April, after a passenger flying from Singapore to Hong Kong on 31 March was confirmed to have COVID-19.
Subsequently, on 14 April, Mr Ong noted that both countries were “finalising details” on the revised agreement to start the air travel bubble between the two cities, and hope to announce the plans “soon”.
His announcement was made a day after Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said that only those who have been fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus will be allowed to fly from Hong Kong to Singapore under the travel bubble.
Bloomberg reported on 22 April that both cities postponed a planned Thursday announcement on an air-travel bubble, of which the cancellation was said to be initiated by the Singapore side, according to people familiar with the matter.