Hong Kong-Singapore air travel bubble to begin on May 26
The Air Travel Bubble (ATB) between Hong Kong and Singapore with designated flights will begin on May 26, authorities from both sides said on Monday.
The ATB between Hong Kong and Singapore, originally scheduled to be launched at the end of 2020, has been deferred due to the unstable pandemic situation at that time.
"The re-launch of the ATB not only meets the aspirations of the people and business communities on cross-border travel, but also signifies that gradual resumption of cross-border travel is achievable through mutual collaborations among different places," Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government Edward Yau said.
According to the HKSAR government, the original ATB arrangement remains largely unchanged, including mutually recognized COVID-19 tests, designated flights for ATB passengers, and a scalable mechanism to adjust the ATB arrangement according to the epidemic situation.
On top of that, more stringent measures will be imposed. Under the original requirement, ATB travelers should have no travel history to any place other than Singapore or Hong Kong in the 14 days prior to departure. In view of the spread of a mutant strain of COVID-19 in different places, the 14-day period must exclude any time spent in quarantine or stay-home notice (SHN) arising from their last return to Singapore or Hong Kong from overseas.
Under the original mechanism, if the seven-day moving average of the daily number of unlinked local COVID-19 cases (the 7DMA figure) is more than five for either Singapore or Hong Kong, the ATB will be suspended for two weeks, and can resume if the 7DMA figure reported on the last day of the two-week suspension period for both places do not exceed five.
According to the new requirement, the ATB can resume only after fulfilling the original threshold and subsequently having three consecutive days with the daily number of unlinked local cases for both places not exceeding three, and the 7DMA figure on the third day for both places do not exceed five, said the HKSAR government.
Furthermore, ATB travelers departing from Singapore to Hong Kong are required to download and use Hong Kong's LeaveHomeSafe mobile application, while those departing from Hong Kong to Singapore are required to use Singapore's TraceTogether mobile application.
Hong Kong residents traveling under the ATB can only take designated flights to fly to Singapore at least 14 days after they have had two doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
According to a statement issued by Singapore's Ministry of Transport, under the ATB, there would be one flight a day in each direction, capped at 200 passengers on each flight for the first two weeks, and the numbers would be reviewed afterwards.
Both sides will closely monitor the COVID-19 situation from now to the targeted launch date, and will "proceed with the launch if the situation continues to be steady and under control" in both sides, said the statement.
"Both sides will need to stay very vigilant in the next one month, so that we can launch the first flights smoothly. It is a significant ATB between two aviation and financial services hubs in Asia," said Singapore's Minister for Transport Ong Ye Kung.
The ATB between Hong Kong and Singapore will be Hong Kong's first ATB arrangement made with other places to resume cross-border travel and orderly restart economic activities.