Hong Kong and Singapore plan to set up a “travel bubble,” they announced yesterday, as they moved to re-establish overseas travel links and lift the hurdle of quarantine for visiting foreigners.
Hong Kong Secretary of Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau (邱騰華) and Singaporean Minister of Transport Ong Ye Kung (王乙康) said that travelers under the scheme would need to get negative COVID-19 test results and travel on dedicated flights.
Further details, including the launch date, would be fleshed out in the coming weeks, they said.
“It is a safe, careful, but significant step forward to revive air travel, and provide a model for future collaboration with other parts of the world,” Ong said.
For Hong Kong, which has banned non-residents since March, the deal with Singapore is its first resumption of travel ties. Travelers from mainland China and Macau still face 14 days in quarantine.
Singapore has already announced pacts on essential business and official travel from China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea, and has opened unilaterally to general visitors from Brunei, New Zealand, Vietnam and most of Australia.
Singapore this week eased quarantine to just seven days for travelers from Hong Kong, from 14 days. It has put the territory on its list of low-risk regions.
International travel in Asia has collapsed during the COVID-19 pandemic because of border closures, with passenger numbers down 97 percent in August, the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines said.
Following the news, shares of Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific surged more than 7 percent in afternoon trade.
Hong Kong’s daily COVID-19 infections have dropped mostly into single digits since August and it has eased some social distancing regulations. Singapore has similarly seen its daily cases fall to singles digits.
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