Two jabs for HK travelers to be a staple in all travel bubbles

Top News | Sophie Hui 28 Apr 2021

Hong Kong residents must be fully vaccinated in order to join future travel bubbles that are being negotiated with other countries, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah says.

Full vaccination for Hongkongers to travel overseas is the SAR's starting point when negotiating bubbles with other jurisdictions for the time being, Yau said.

Under the travel bubble agreement between Hong Kong and Singapore to launch on May 26, Hongkongers must receive two vaccine doses and wait 14 days before their trip.

Singaporeans are not required to be inoculated by their government.

Yau said on radio yesterday that it was the Hong Kong government that is requiring its residents full vaccination for their "extra protection."

For people who are not suitable for vaccination, he added, they can still join the bubble after making a declaration.

"You should protect yourself first especially when you are traveling outside your community. It would be best if the risk [for infection] can be reduced," Yau said.

Yau also said most crew members of designated future flights from Singapore to Hong Kong have been inoculated, while those arriving in Hong Kong from Singapore will have a special passage at the airport.

He said Taiwan is not currently among the target destinations, but there can be a discussion if both places want to form a bubble.

On the same radio program, travel agency WWPKG's chief executive Yuen Chun-ning said he expects a five-day tour to Singapore to cost more than HK$10,000 during the initial launch of the bubble. But the prices will come down, he added, when there are more flights in June.

Yuen said bookings for trips to Singapore have yet to be impacted by the bubble announcement as people are taking a wait-and-see attitude.

He doubts the bubble with Singapore will boost the tourism industry as the Lion City is not a big market.

So Yuen hopes the SAR could set up bubbles with top destinations such as Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.

Meanwhile, Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong president Allen Shi Lop-tak proposed a "business bubble" with an initial 500 daily quota for SAR manufacturers to drive to the mainland and back quarantine-free.

China still requires Hongkongers to undergo a 14-day quarantine upon their arrival. He said since many manufacturers drive to the mainland for work, the hope is that the government would allow those fully vaccinated to motor to their factories across the border and return on the same day.

The SAR government on Monday announced that the Return2HK scheme will be expanded to other provinces outside Guangdong province and Macau from tomorrow.

Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions chairman Wong Kwok welcomed the expansion of the scheme, saying the FTU has received over 20 inquiries after the announcement.

But he believes only those who desperately need to return to Hong Kong will participate in the scheme.

Wong called for a two-way scheme so Hongkongers can be exempted from quarantine or have their quarantine period shortened to three days after vaccination.

sophie.hui@singtaonewscorp.com



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