Singapore has announced its first two-way air travel bubble with Hong Kong, paving the way for leisure and other forms of travel between both places.
This means that people will be able to travel between the two locations without the need to be quarantined, subject to conditions including testing negative for Covid-19.
Details are still being worked out, but people could be travelling between both places in several weeks.
Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung on Thursday (Oct 15) called the move a small but significant step for the two aviation hubs, adding that the agreement set the model for more partnerships to come to revive air travel.
Noting that both countries posed a low risk of Covid-19 transmission, he said: “The risk of a Hong Konger bringing the virus into Changi (Airport) is not very different from someone coming from Jurong.”
Asked what precautions will be taken to safeguard Singapore from a spike in cases in Hong Kong or other places, Mr Ong said: “There should be a common understanding. We all want to control the virus and the epidemic, but should there be unforeseen circumstances, a spike. I think we will have to suspend (the arrangement).”
He added that this was an initiative which would be done progressively, cautiously, steadily, and safely.
“But we have to open up our aviation sector. We have to try,” he stressed.
“Both of us are important aviation hubs. We both know that the aviation hub concerns the entire economy, not just the aviation industry.”
Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau on Thursday (Oct 15) noted that this is the first travel bubble arrangement made by Hong Kong and it is a milestone in efforts to resume normalcy.
“It is significant that our two regional aviation hubs have decided to collaborate to establish an Air Travel Bubble. 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,” Mr Yau added.
Under the agreement, there will be no restrictions on segments of the population, itinerary or purpose of travel. But travellers have to undergo mutually recognised testing for Covid-19 that show they are negative. They will have to take dedicated flights that do not accept transit passengers and the number of these flights can be raised or lowered, depending on the pandemic situation in both cities.
Text: Jolene Ang and Claire Huang/ Straits Times