Virus flare-up could trigger air bubble suspension, Singapore says

Local | 15 Oct 2020 5:24 pm

A Hong Kong-Singapore bilateral travel bubble could be suspended if the virus flares up in either country, Singapore's Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said.

“There should be a common understanding,” Ong said today response to a question on the precautions to safeguard Singapore.

“We all want to control the virus and the epidemic but should there be unforeseen circumstances – a spike – I think we will have to suspend (the arrangement).”

He added that the new initiative – possibly the first two-way air travel bubble in the region and in the world – would be done “progressively, cautiously, steadily (and) safely” to open up the aviation sector.

“We have to try – both of us are important aviation hubs. We both know that aviation hub concerns the entire economy, not just the aviation industry, so hundreds and thousands of jobs are at stake.”

Both Singapore and Hong Kong will “probably have to agree to a certain incidence rate that both sides … are comfortable with,'' Ong said said noting that a second wave of infections “is a possibility.''

“Should something like that happen, the agreement must have the ability to scale back at very short notice.”

Noting that both cities have the same "risk profile" when it comes to coronavirus transmission, Ong said: “The risk of a Hong Konger bringing the virus into Changi Airport is not very different from someone coming from Jurong.”

He added: “To start with, the risks are low because we both have very low incidence rates but the way we replace (stay-home notices), quarantines and … controlled itineraries is through a test.

“We both agreed on pre-departure tests but each party can impose more tests if we like to."

These could include other “administrative arrangements” such as on-arrival tests or have travelers from Hong Kong download the TraceTogether mobile app when they are in Singapore, he said.-CNA


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