Whilst the tide seems to be turning in the battle against Covid-19, new stories in the past few weeks have shown that the war is far from over. From a flare-up of cases in Thailand leading to quarantine being extended to the dire situation in India resulting in flight bans, travel this summer is by no means guaranteed.
That’s also the case in Singapore, where a recent cluster has thrown the future of their burgeoning travel bubble with Hong Kong into severe doubt. Here’s a closer look at what has happened in the city-state, and the impact it might have on future travel plans.
History Repeating – Travel Bubble Doubt And What Travelers Should Know
Despite much lower case levels than many other countries that have begun to resume travel in the past few weeks, Singapore’s recent outbreak is being taken extremely carefully – and it has cast the feasibility of their planned travel bubble with Hong Kong into doubt.
Singapore’s 7-day rolling average of 27 daily cases – and their first Covid-19 related death for almost two months – has warranted the government to enforce tighter social-distancing measures in the country, as well as closing gyms, limiting group gatherings to five and reducing the number of people working in offices. However, it’s the future of the country’s travel bubble that is bound to catch the eye of travelers around the world.
The terms of the travel bubble agreement stipulated that should the seven-day moving average of the daily number of unlinked local cases reach more than five in either Singapore or Hong Kong, then the bubble will automatically close for a period of two weeks. Whilst the current rate of 1.43 in Singapore is well below that figure, the fact that some recent cases have been linked with the more infectious variant devastating India at present could see the figure rise in the coming days.
Speaking about the future of the bubble, Lawrence Wong, the minister who chairs Singapore’s virus taskforce said:
“We will monitor the situation and we will review and assess whether or not there will be any changes.”
For those around the world who look to travel bubbles as a solution to the travel question that the tourism industry is trying to solve, fingers will be crossed in hope that this doesn’t end up being the second time the proposed bubble has fallen at the final hurdle. Should the bubble fail to get off the ground once more, the concept may be abandoned altogether in favor of an approach that uses vaccine passports, a system that is currently being trialed in several countries around the world.
Singapore and Hong Kong Travel News – Information For Travelers
In light of their recent cluster, Singapore has moved to increase the length of time that inbound travelers must quarantine for. The period will now be 21 days, up from 14, with exceptions for travelers from low-risk countries such as Australia, Brunei Darussalam, China, New Zealand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.
Despite Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam suggesting the possibility of a travel bubble with Macau, Macau has not been overly receptive to the idea, which could see Hong Kong bubble-less in the coming weeks. Macau has so far reported less than 50 cases of the virus, whilst Hong Kong’s numbers are approaching the 12,000 figure. Hong Kong has also announced that it will lift the ban on flights from the UK and Ireland.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories