Since March, Hong Kong and Singapore have kept their borders tightly closed. In both cities, residents have found themselves unable to travel, strict quarantines have been imposed, and short-term visitors have been banned. In November, things were set to finally change, with a new arrangement between the Hong Kong and Singapore governments that was set to bring back travel at last.
That was until a rise in cases in Hong Kong prompted a two-week delay at the very last minute.
Back in October, the two cities announced an ‘Air Travel Bubble’ that would allow travel between the two cities for any reason – even vacations! – as long as travellers provided a negative PCR test result. Not only that, but you wouldn’t have to quarantine at all. The scheme was agreed due to the low case numbers in both Hong Kong and Singapore.
It was subsequently declared that the dedicated air bubble flights will start on November 22, with one flight per day arriving in each city. Overall traveller numbers would be capped at 200 in each direction per day. (On average, 18 daily flights linked Hong Kong and Singapore before the travel shutdown.) Barring a bump in infections, this was expected to increase from December 7 to two flights per day.
However, over the weekend before launch a rise in cases in Hong Kong prompted an abrupt delay to the imminent start of the Air Travel Bubble. The Hong Kong and Singapore governments initially agreed a two-week initial delay, with a new launch date due to be announced before December 6.
Now, however, the travel bubble has been postponed ‘beyond December’. The exact start date is still to be established later this month, according to Channel News Asia. That means Singaporeans and Hongkongers will have to keep feeding their wanderlust with hiking trails, pop-up plane restaurants and ‘cruises to nowhere’ until 2021.
Singapore already has travel arrangements with a number of other territories, but none so far that allow its citizens to depart for leisure travel. Elsewhere in the world, a travel bubble (an idea originally proposed way back in May) already exists between Australia and New Zealand and one is being considered between London and New York. Japan is also creating a limited travel bubble with a handful of Asian regions.
However, all of these arrangements come with more restrictions than the proposed Singapore-Hong Kong bubble. For keen travellers in both cities, it can’t come soon enough.