The governments of Singapore and Hong Kong said on Monday that a long-delayed travel bubble between the two Asian financial centers would begin next month, allowing travelers on designated flights to bypass quarantine.
The travel arrangement, which was originally supposed to begin last November, was suspended at the last minute when Hong Kong experienced a sudden surge in cases. With both places now reporting relatively few local infections, officials say the travel corridor will begin on May 26.
“Both sides will need to stay very vigilant in the next one month, so that we can launch the first flights smoothly,” Ong Ye Kung, Singapore’s minister of transport, said in a statement.
The arrangement, which is open to people of any nationality in Singapore and Hong Kong, will begin with one flight per day in each direction for up to 200 passengers. Travelers to both places must test negative for the coronavirus before departure and again upon arrival. They are also required to download and use government contact-tracing apps.
Travelers from Hong Kong must have received their second dose of a vaccine at least 14 days earlier, with some exceptions. Officials in Hong Kong, where the vaccination campaign has struggled to gain momentum, say they hope that this will give residents an incentive to get vaccinated. (There is no vaccination requirement for travelers from Singapore to Hong Kong.)
Officials said that the bubble would be suspended automatically for two weeks if either city recorded a seven-day average of more than five local cases from an unknown source.
The bubble is seen as an important step toward economic recovery in the two cities, both major travel hubs whose flagship carriers, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines, only operate international flights. Similar travel bubbles are already in effect between Australia and New Zealand and between Palau and Taiwan, all places where local transmission of the coronavirus is almost nonexistent.