HK-Singapore travel bubble to suspend for two weeks

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Hong Kong's travel bubble with Singapore will be suspended for two weeks after the SAR recorded a sudden surge in Covid-19 infections. 

The decision came as Hong Kong recorded an overwhelming surge of untraceable infections in the past week, sparking concerns of a fourth wave outbreak.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah said both administrations in Hong Kong and Singapore had agreed to postpone the arrangement, stressing it was a responsible way to minimize inconvenience on travelers. 

The travel bubble, which was scheduled to launch tomorrow, exempts travelers who have tested negative on Covid in mutually recognized tests from a 14-day quarantine. The test must be taken within 72 hours before their departure and travelers must prove they hadn't been to any places other than Singapore or Hong Kong in the last 14 days prior to their departure. 

In a press briefing, Yau said the administrations would be closely monitoring the pandemic and announce the details of resuming designated flights between the two places in early December. He added the decision was made on the premises of public health and public safety concerns.

"We decided in the interests of making a good start, and also in the interests of avoiding any confusion to passengers," Yau said.

Meanwhile, Singapore's Minister of Travel Ye-kung Ong said he and Yau met to discuss the postponement this afternoon given the evolving situation in Hong Kong.

“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,” said Ong in a Facebook post. 

Under the quarantine-free travel arrangement, if the average daily number of untraceable Covid-19 cases over a seven-day period in either city goes above five, the arrangement will be suspended for two weeks. 

Over the past seven days, Hong Kong has had 27 untraceable cases, making a daily average of almost four. The city's official tally now stands at 5,560 with 108 related deaths.