Travel bubble pops again


HONG KONG: A travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore due to open on May 26 has been postponed a second time after a spike in cases in Singapore derailed the plan for quarantine-free travel between the financial hubs.

The bubble was slated to begin in November last year but was called off after a rise in cases in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong and Singapore have been largely successful in keeping the virus at bay over the past year with strict border controls and tracing of infections but new cases in Singapore have dashed hopes for the air travel bubble (ATB).

“In light of the spike in unlinked community cases, Singapore is unable to meet criteria to start the ATB, ” Singapore’s Transport Ministry said.

But both sides remained committed to launching the bubble safely, it added.

The Hong Kong government said another announcement would come on or before June 13.

On Friday, Singapore announced its strictest curbs in months, due to a rise in community infections in recent days.

Hong Kong has seen its daily cases drop to low single digits while the government has relaxed some Covid-prevention rules for vaccinated people, in a move to incentivise residents to get inoculated.

The travel bubble was due to start with one flight a day into each city, with up to 200 travellers on each flight.

Officials had said that if the seven-day moving average of the daily number of unlinked local Covid-19 cases was more than five for either Singapore or Hong Kong, the scheme would be suspended.

For Hong Kong, which has banned non-residents coming to the city since March last year, the deal with Singapore would have been its first travel link with another city.

Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines were due to be the carriers offering the initial flights. — Reuters

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