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Singapore and Hong Kong Travel Bubble Delayed Amid COVID-19 Surge

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A travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong was set to be established today, but a surge in cases of COVID-19 has led to the plan being delayed.

Following discussions between the two countries, an air travel bubble was scheduled to start today, Sunday 22nd November, which would enable less-restricted movement between the two countries. 

hong kong market during covid

Whilst Singapore and Hong Kong have arrangements with other countries that allow some transit across their borders, what made this arrangement different was that it allowed leisure travel, rather than travel for business or education purposes. It came about due to the low levels of the virus in both countries and strong mechanisms in place to control its spread, and it was viewed as a welcome step in the right direction.

The arrangement was not huge in scope or scale; it was meant to consist of one flight between the two countries a day with a passenger limit of 200, which would then have risen to two flights a day in December. As part of the arrangements, travellers would have had to have been testing both prior to departure and upon arrival. It was open to people who had spent 14 days in either city, regardless of their nationality.

Travel Bubble Bursts Just Hours Before Starting

With news of the transfer bubble being delayed just hours before it was due to be started, it is bound to have been a major setback for many citizens of both countries. The decision to delay was announced by Singapore’s Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung following a spike in the number of cases of Covid-19 in Hong Kong. 

Singapore airlines plane

On Saturday, Hong Kong reported 43 new cases of the virus, with 36 of them locally transmitted and thirteen of them coming from sources that are as yet unknown. This follows a further 26 new infections that were announced on Friday. Following these concerning rises in the number of infections, the decision to delay the travel bubble was made. The current number of cases in Hong Kong stands at 5,560, whilst Singapore has recorded 58,160.

The Civil Aviation Authority in Singapore had previously stated just yesterday morning that the travel bubble would go ahead as planned, but this decision was reversed just hours later. The arrangement between the two countries came with the caveat that it could be suspended should a spike in cases arise, so those booking on the special travel bubble flights did so with the knowledge that it may be delayed. Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific have stated that customers booked onto these flights can request to be compensated with a full refund, and their cancellation fees are to be waived.

Whilst the special travel bubble flights might not be going ahead, citizens of both Hong Kong and Singapore are still free to take non-travel bubble flights between the two countries, yet will be subject to the border control and health requirements of both nations. Those who arrive in Hong Kong will be tested and required to quarantine, whilst Singaporeans will have to self-isolate at home once they arrive back in Singapore.

Singapore Reopening Borders For Tourism Sept 1 From Select Countries

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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