Singapore-Hong Kong Travel Bubble May Be Delayed Again
Sadly, it looks like the Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble's fate is hanging by a thread once again.
Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said on May 14 that it is "very likely that Singapore will not be able to meet the resumption criteria."
The air travel bubble between the countries was due to launch on May 26 but amid a significant increase in community cases in Singapore and the country going into a heightened Phase 2, it no longer seems likely that the plan will come to fruition.
At the Covid-19 multi-ministry task force press conference on Friday, Mr Ong also mentioned that Singapore will have to "critically review" the start date of the air travel bubble. The air travel bubble, which was due to launch in November last year, was already delayed once before following a spike in cases in Hong Kong.
He said: "What we'll do now is closely monitor the numbers in the next few days, critically review the start date and early next week, we will make a decision and make an announcement on the Singapore, Hong Kong air travel bubble."
Mr Ong added that he had already spoken to Hong Kong's secretary for commerce and economic development, Edward Yau, and informed him about the current Covid-19 situation in Singapore.
"We both agree that we are strongly committed to do this air travel bubble between these two international cities. But at the same time, we have to start it safely. And we must respect the resumption mechanism that both sides have agreed on" said Mr Ong.
Singapore is currently "on the knife's edge" according to Education Minister Lawrence Wong with regards to our current Covid-19 cases. He added on May 11 that the country has "a chance of getting things under control by the end of the month."
However, on May 13, the country reported 24 new community cases of Covid-19. This is the highest number of daily community cases recorded since July 11, 2020, and stems largely from our two biggest active clusters, Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Changi Airport. Singapore currently has a total of 12 active clusters.
We have also seen the new number of community cases go from 48 in the week before to 71 cases in the past week. The number of unlinked community cases has also gone up from seven in the week before to 12 in the past week.
As a result, the government has decided to move Singapore to a heightened Phase 2 which reduces group sizes down from five to two and bans dining-in.
Under the terms of the agreement, both Hong Kong and Singapore agreed that the travel bubble would be suspended for at least 14 days should the seven-day moving average of unlinked local Covid-19 cases a day go over five in either country. This excludes dormitory residents.
Hong Kong currently is very safe according to Mr Ong. He said: "Like us, they do tens of thousands of tests a day and they are picking up often zero if not one, two cases a day. The issue now is the situation in Singapore where cases are going up."
For now, it looks like we will just have to wait and see how the Covid-19 situation progresses before we will be sure if the bubble will go on or not.