Hong Kong and Singapore Agree on Air Travel Bubble, Allowing Leisure Travel Without Quarantine
Additional reporting by Andrea Saadan and Chloe Pek
Since the outbreak of Covid-19 in January, keen travellers have had to forgo plans––whether for their usual summer long hauls, or for frequent weekend breaks––in light of staying home to prevent the spread of the virus.
Today, it was announced that both the Hong Kong and Singapore governments have firmed up plans for a Singapore-Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble (ATB).
More details are still to come, but people could be travelling between both places soon.
In a public announcement about the agreement, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung called it “a small step but a significant one”.
“Both Hong Kong and Singapore are regional aviation hubs—or even global aviation hubs—and for us to…come together to discuss and establish this air travel bubble, hopefully this sets a model for us to forge more of these relationships and partnerships.”
Hong Kong's Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau has said that the agreement means that visitors between the two cities would not need to go through quarantine or stay-at-home procedures, but that travellers will be required to produce a negative result from a Covid-19 testing facility recognised by both regions ahead of any travel plans.
(Related: Singapore to Launch Cruises to Nowhere for Residents From November 2020)
It has also been confirmed that there will be no restrictions on the purpose of travel, and travellers will also be able to roam freely in both destinations, with no need to provide a predetermined itinerary.
Although no date has been confirmed for when the travel bubble will be officially launched, Yau stated that he has "every confidence that the ATB arrangement can come to fruition very soon to facilitate the resumption of air travel between our two economies".
With safety as a top priority for the two destinations, both governments have confirmed that they are aiming to flesh out all details of the bubbles within the coming weeks “with the necessary safeguards in place to ensure that public health concerns of both sides are addressed.”
(Related: These Airlines Have Resumed Flights From Singapore)
“Each party can impose more tests if we would like to. From now on, officials from both sides will enter into formal discussions to conclude this agreement,” Ong said. He added that the initiative would be done progressively, cautiously, steadily and safely.
“There should be a common understanding. We all want to control the virus and the epidemic, but should there be unforeseen circumstances, a spike. I think we will have to suspend (the arrangement).”
Thus far, Singapore has unilaterally opened its borders to travellers from Brunei, New Zealand, Vietnam and Australia excluding Victoria state. Visitors are required to apply for the Air Travel Pass that permits any form of short-term travel.
Earlier this month, Japan announced that it will remove a ban on overseas travel to 12 other countries, including Singapore, in November.