Hong Kong-Singapore Travel Bubble in Doubt as Covid Spreads

A long-awaited quarantine-free travel agreement between Hong Kong and Singapore due to begin on May 26 after several false starts may not go ahead due to a rise in coronavirus cases in Singapore.

Edward Yau, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, said Friday there’s a “high chance” the so-called travel bubble might not proceed as scheduled, dealing another blow to a border-opening plan that was initially set to happen last November.

Hong Kong and Singapore have both taken strict measures to combat virus outbreaks that in terms of caseloads pale in comparison to other parts of the world: Hong Kong has reported a total of 11,817 cases and 210 deaths, while Singapore’s had about 63,000 cases — mostly in worker dormitories — and 31 deaths. Countries elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, such as Australia and New Zealand, which recently launched a bilateral travel bubble, have kept virus cases low with stringent border controls.

Singapore is now trying to combat a growing virus outbreak, which includes a cluster at the city’s iconic Changi Airport. Dozens of cases have been linked to the airport, prompting the closure of two terminals and the Jewel complex.

Friday’s comments from Yau could dash the hopes of many people planning to fly between the two financial hubs for business and to reunite with friends and family for the first time in months. Even if the bubble does go ahead, visitors to Singapore will likely encounter tighter social-distancing restrictions given the outbreak there.

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A woman jogs past a cordoned off Merlion Park on June 12, 2020 in Singapore. Suhaimi Abdullah | Getty Images SINGAPORE — Singapore’s benchmark Straits Times Index fell 3% after the government announced further tightening in Covid-19 restrictions and the likelihood that the air travel bubble with Hong Kong may […]