Singapore and Hong Kong announced a Travel Bubble two weeks ago to allow leisure and business passengers to travel between these two city-states relatively freely with few Covid-19 tests.
I noted at the time that a small rise in the number of Covid-19 infections at either would burst this bubble, and that is what just happened. The bubble that was set to begin tomorrow has burst.
Here’s the announcement from the CAAS:
Launch Of Singapore – Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble Flights To Be Deferred
Given the evolving COVID-19 situation in Hong Kong, Singapore Minister for Transport, Ong Ye Kung, has announced that the launch of the Singapore – Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble (ATB) flights will be deferred by two weeks. This decision was reached following a discussion between Minister Ong and Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, Edward Yau, earlier today. This is to safeguard public health in both cities as well as travellers’ own health.
Singapore and Hong Kong will review the new launch date of the ATB flights within two weeks. An update will be provided at a later date.
Travellers may still continue their journey on non-designated ATB flights. However, such travellers will be subject to the prevailing border control and health requirements of both cities. For example, Singapore residents returning from Hong Kong will be subject to a 7-day Stay-Home Notice upon entry into Singapore.
The airlines will also be contacting affected passengers to render assistance. Passengers may also reach out to their airlines regarding their travel plans.
There has been a surge in Covid-19 infections in Hong Kong, and many of them are untraceable. SCMP reports:
An alarming surge of more than 100 Covid-19 infections in Hong Kong has prompted the abrupt two-week suspension of the city’s air travel bubble with Singapore on the eve of its launch.
Hong Kong health authorities on Saturday confirmed 43 coronavirus cases, 13 of which were untraceable, and reported more than 60 new preliminary infections in what is now seen as the fourth wave of the pandemic.
Int ightening measure for the long-awaited travel policy earlier on Saturday, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said the threshold would be exceeded if there were more than 22 unlinked cases in Hong Kong over the next three days.
Also, Singapore was set to tighten the bubble requirement for Hong Kong Arrivals that would require a test in Singapore:
Before news of the postponement of the travel bubble emerged, Singaporean authorities on Saturday unveiled tightened measures for the policy , requiring Hong Kong travellers landing at its Changi Airport to take an on-arrival test for Covid-19.
Arrivals would then need to self-isolate at their place of residence, going there via private not public transport, for six to eight hours while waiting for the result.
The original bubble arrangement didn’t require passengers arriving from Hong Kong to test on arrival in Singapore. There were several test requirements for passengers going from Singapore to Hong Kong, however.
Singapore and Hong Kong have said that they would revisit the travel bubble start date sometime in December.
The idea of this bubble was good, but it was inevitable that it would burst at some point because of the low number of allowed untraceable infections at either end (5 per day) on a rolling seven day period.
Hong Kong which has been able to suppress the virus well, is a good example that it can flare up easily.