Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble postponed

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The launch of the Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble will be deferred for two weeks, and the new launch date will be announced later, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said yesterday.

A bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore was scrapped just 24 hours before its launch after a coronavirus spike as alarm bells were raised across Asia amid a spike in Covid-19 clusters.

The bubble, which was originally slated to start Sunday, would allow a limited number of air travelers to avoid quarantine.

In a Facebook post at around 5pm, Mr Ong said that he and Hong Kong Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau agreed that it would be better to defer the launch, given the evolving situation in Hong Kong.

"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", Yau said.

"I can fully understand the disappointment and frustration of travellers who have planned their trips".

The CAAS also said that the newly-added on-arrival COVID-19 PCR test will cost 196 Singapore dollars (about $145.89) per traveler, but Singapore will exempt travelers arriving in the first week from paying for the test, so as to give travelers under the ATB time to adjust to this change.

With the suspension of the travel bubble, Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders can travel from Hong Kong to Singapore on non-bubble flights.

The South China Morning Post reported that the plan would have allowed up to 200 people to fly each day without a quarantine period.

Composite image of the views of Singapore (L) and Hong Kong. Another nine unlinked cases today, which is likely to occur, would see Hong Kong breach the threshold.

Another mandatory COVID-19 test is carried out for passengers after landing in Hong Kong and reports of this test may be at variance from the reports of tests conducted 72 hours before taking the flight, the spokesperson mentioned.

On Friday, Hong Kong's top health official said that the city had "probably entered" a new wave of cases.

Hong Kong has confirmed a total of 5,561 cases, including 108 deaths. "But in the light of the recent upsurge of local cases, we have decided together with Singapore government that we would defer the launching of the Air Travel bubble by two weeks".

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