Sunday, May 16, 2021

Hong Kong, Singapore to revive travel bubble

The two business hubs plan to resurrect their scrapped trabel bubble on May 26.

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Hong Kong and Singapore on Monday announced plans to resurrect their scrapped coronavirus travel bubble with dedicated flights between the two cities starting on May 26.

The two business hubs had to abandon a highly anticipated quarantine-free travel corridor late last year after Hong Kong was hit with a fourth wave of infections.

From May 26, one flight per day carrying up to 200 passengers will shuttle between the two cities. Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines will share the route with two daily flights planned from June 10 onwards.

Hong Kongers heading to Singapore will have to have received two doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Sinovac vaccines – an attempt to encourage inoculation in a city where take-up so far has remained a tepid 11% despite ample supplies.

Travellers from Singapore – where the vaccination rate is around 20% – will not be required to have been inoculated but must test negative before departure and on arrival.

Both Hong Kong and Singapore maintain strict quarantine rules for all arrivals, a measure that has kept infections comparatively low. But the restrictions have battered tourism and the wider economy.

While countries are desperate to restart global travel, quarantine-free bubbles have had limited successes.

Taiwan and Palau set up a dedicated travel bubble last month followed by Australia and New Zealand.

On Friday, New Zealand paused arrivals from Western Australia after an outbreak there.

The European Union is keen to allow American tourists who are vaccinated to be able to visit without restriction come the summer.

But with global infections still rising and only a tiny minority of the world’s population vaccinated, widespread travel corridors remain a distant hope.

Hong Kong and Singapore’s bubble is dependent on both sides remaining relatively coronavirus-free in the coming months.

Both sides have agreed that the bubble will be suspended for two weeks if the daily average of untraceable infections in one week reaches more than five in either city.

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