Topline

Hong Kong and Singapore agreed to open a quarantine-free travel bubble between the two cities that will finally open on May 26, coming six months after the original plan was scuttled following a spike in Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong.

Key Facts

In simultaneous press conferences on Monday, Hong Kong’s Commerce Secretary Edward Yau and Singapore’s Transport Minister Ong Ye Ku announced the bubble will begin with one flight a day into each city, with up to 200 passengers on each flight.

Passengers traveling in the quarantine-free bubble will be required to test negative for Covid-19 before departure and on arrival.

Hong Kong residents, however, will also be allowed to fly to Singapore with no restrictions at least 14 days after they have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

The bubble may be suspended if the seven-day average of locally acquired Covid-19 cases in either city crosses five.

Key Background

Quarantine-free travel bubbles offer a lifeline for families, businesses and airlines during the pandemic. While several other nations have attempted such a system things haven’t always gone to plan. The Hong Kong-Singapore bubble was originally scheduled to start in November last year but that plan had to be scrapped after a flare-up of cases in Hong Kong. Strict pandemic protocols have dissuaded people in both cities from traveling outside and this has severely impacted the business of the two flag carriers—Singapore Airlines and Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific. Last week, New Zealand was forced to pause its travel bubble with one Australian state, just days after it opened, following an outbreak in the city of Perth in Western Australia. Back in May last year, a group of European nations—Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania—had instituted a travel bubble arrangement. But it fell apart in September after Latvia mandated a 14-day quarantine on travelers arriving from Estonia following an outbreak in the country.

Further Reading

Hong Kong, Singapore to start long-delayed travel bubble next month (Reuters)

Singapore, Hong Kong to relaunch travel bubble on May 26 (CNA)

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