SINGAPORE – Singaporeans will be able to travel to Hong Kong for leisure from Nov 22, in the first air travel bubble arrangement for the Republic since border restrictions were imposed amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The scheme will start with one flight a day into each city with a quota of 200 travellers per flight, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung announced in Singapore on Wednesday (Nov 11).
This will be increased to two flights a day from Dec 7.
The arrangement will be suspended for two weeks if the seven-day moving average of the daily number of unlinked Covid-19 cases is more than five in either Singapore or Hong Kong, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said in a statement.
As part of the air travel bubble, travellers between Singapore and Hong Kong will have to take Covid-19 tests, in lieu of serving quarantine or stay-home notices.
There will be no restrictions on the purpose of travel, and no need for a controlled itinerary.
But travellers must meet eligibility criteria and adhere to the prevailing border control measures and public health requirements of both cities, said the CAAS.
All travellers will be required to test negative on a Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test 72 hours before their scheduled departure.
On arrival in Hong Kong, travellers from Singapore will be required to take another Covid-19 test and remain at the airport until the results are confirmed. This could take about four hours, Mr Ong said.
There is no such requirement for travellers from Hong Kong coming here.
Asked why, Mr Ong said that the scheme is “not designed to be symmetrical” and should allow flexibility within own territories.
Singapore for example requires travellers to download the contract tracing app and apply for an Air Travel Pass.
Negotiations between Singapore and Hong Kong were concluded earlier this week.
CAAS said: “The good progress in containing the spread of Covid-19 in Singapore and Hong Kong has given us the confidence to reopen our borders gradually, with safeguards in place to ensure our public health and safety,” it said.
Mr Ong noted that the air traffic bubble enables Singapore and Hong Kong to open up their borders in a controlled manner, while maintaining safety in both societies.
“While we may be starting small, this is an important step forward. I have no doubt both Singapore and Hong Kong will cooperate fully to make this scheme work,” he said.
Mr Ong added that this air travel bubble will be a useful reference for other countries and regions that have controlled the epidemic, and are contemplating opening their borders.
The arrangement was first announced in the middle of last month, allowing people to travel between the two locations without the need to be quarantined, but subject to conditions such as testing negative for Covid-19.
Hong Kong is the 10th place that Singapore has made special travel arrangements with.
Apart from air travel bubbles, there are also other schemes in place, such as bilateral green lane arrangements, which are for essential business and official travel.
Unilateral border openings, which are one-sided, also safely lift Singapore’s border restrictions and welcome travellers from certain countries and regions.
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