On the eve of the planned air travel bubble launch between Hong Kong and Singapore, both governments agreed to delay the arrangement in view of the recent rise of COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong. The inaugural flights have been postponed for two weeks and will be reviewed again within these two weeks for a new launch date to be set or to be updated again.
With the situation in Hong Kong showing an increasing trend of unlinked local cases in the community, it is expected that rules and regulations will once again tighten. A statement from the Hong Kong government says that the deferral is a suitable and responsible arrangement to minimise the inconvenience caused to travellers as well as reduce the uncertainty in their itineraries.
“For any scheme to be successful, they must fulfil the condition of securing public health, and also make sure that both sides would be comfortable and feel safe about the scheme,” said Hong Kong’s minister of Commerce and Economic Development, Edward Yau, at a news conference. “In light of the situation in Hong Kong, I think it’s the responsible way to put this back for a while, and then sort of relaunch it at a suitable juncture.”
The air travel bubble, set to be one of the world's first two-way travel bubbles, was going to allow a quarantine-free air route between Hong Kong and Singapore, with one flight into each city and each flight with a maximum capacity of 200 passengers. The highly-anticipated bubble would have meant no restrictions placed on the purpose of the trip, and travellers would not need to undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine following a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test result.
Hong Kong authorities also announced the need to close down party rooms and ban live music performances at bars to limit any further spikes. To find out more about enjoying the city while remaining safe and complying with regulations, check out our guide on the things you need to know about social distancing in Hong Kong.