Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble announcement delayed to early next week

Published (HKT): 2021.04.22 21:24

The announcement for the planned travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore has been delayed to early next week, Apple Daily has learned.

Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that it would be announced the next day, but the news outlet published another piece on Thursday that it had been called off.

The postponement was suggested by Singapore and the travel bubble would be announced early next week, sources told Apple Daily. The number of flights and passengers would be similar to plans made last year.

The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau told Apple Daily that the situation of the pandemic has gradually stabilized since February, as the governments of Hong Kong and Singapore had discussed relaunching the travel bubble. The government will announce the details as soon as possible, it said.

Singapore’s Ministry of Transport said that the two cities have been in close consultation on the air travel bubble. No date has been fixed to announce the resumption, but it would be “hopefully very soon,” it said.

Singapore on Wednesday eased quarantine rules, as travelers from Hong Kong will only have to stay in home isolation for seven days upon arriving in Singapore, shorter than the previous rule of two weeks in a hotel mandated by the government.

But there was a new outbreak in Singapore with 11 workers at Westlite Woodlands dormitory testing positive for COVID-19. The Strait Times also reported the Singaporean government was considering sending hundreds of foreign workers to quarantine.

Tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing said on a RTHK talk show that both governments were very careful following the failure of the travel bubble last year.

The tourism industry has made no preparations for the travel bubble as there was no clear timetable yet, but it was more likely to launch by May, Yiu said. Singapore’s relaxing of quarantine rules for Hongkongers showed both sides were proactive, he added.

As for local tours, Yiu said the industry has asked the government to loosen rules so that workers and participants do not have to be vaccinated. The government has agreed that if participants use the official contact tracking app LeaveHomeSafe, they could join local tours, Yiu said after meeting the health secretary and the commissioner for tourism.

However, frontline workers must get vaccinated, and those who cannot due to health reasons must provide a doctor’s proof, he said. Local tours could likely resume by May 8 or 9, he added.

The new government measure to allow non-Hong Kong residents in Guangdong province and Macao to visit without going through quarantine would not help with tourism, as they have to enter two weeks of quarantine on the return trip, Yip said.

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