Singapore-Hong Kong Travel Bubble to Launch on May 26
Today marks a historic day in Singapore's ongoing battle against the difficulties brought about by Covid-19 with Singapore and Hong Kong finally announcing that the highly-anticipated travel bubble between the countries will begin on May 26.
In their announcement, both Singapore and Hong Kong stated that there would be stricter conditions imposed when the travel bubble launches. For one, travellers will have to remain in Singapore or Hong Kong for 14 days prior to their departure.
This will exclude any time that they spend in quarantine or on stay-home notice.
Hong Kong will also require their residents to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before they can depart on any of these flights. They will be making exceptions for children or people who are deemed unsuitable to take the vaccine.
They will also be requiring travellers from Singapore to install Hong Kong's LeaveHomeSafe app before departing to facilitate contact tracing.
Under this travel bubble, travellers from both countries will be able to travel freely in and out of both countries without having to serve a quarantine. They will however be required to take pre-departure and on-arrival Covid-19 swab tests. They will also only be allowed to take specially designated flights which will be operated by Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.
The date of the travel bubble comes as both countries see an improvement in the Covid-19 situation. In fact, Singapore's Ministry of Transport has said that "the risk profiles of both cities are... now similar."
The ministry added that both countries will be monitoring the Covid-19 situations and will only launch the travel bubble on May 26 "if the situation continues to be steady and under control in both cities."
When the bubble launches, it will begin cautiously with only one flight per day in each direction.
Each flight will also see a maximum of 200 passengers. This number will be reviewed after the initial two weeks.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board has also stated that they will continue to work with various tourism-related sectors to improve their anti-epidemic measures. These include their anti-epidemic hygiene measures certification scheme which they launched last year.
More than 2,000 outlets including retail and dining outlets, hotels, attractions and other locations have now been certified, which ensures that travellers will be safe.
The announcement of the travel bubble launch date is certainly a joy to many travel hopefuls as well as to the tourism industry which has seen a steep decline since the onset of the pandemic.
Hong Kong's Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Edward Yau, added: "The re-launch of 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."
Here's hoping that the situation continues to remain stable in both countries and that we can slowly start to see the resumption of free travel once again. Stay tuned for more updates.