Singapore-Hong Kong airline bubble launch postponed for 2 weeks after peak COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong


SINGAPORE: The launch of an air bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong has been postponed for two weeks after a peak in COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong, Singapore’s transport minister said on Saturday afternoon (November 21), Ong Ye Kung.

The air bubble was due to start on Sunday.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Ong said he had had discussions with Hong Kong Secretary of Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau over the travel bubble.

“Given the developments in Hong Kong, (Mr.) Yau and I discussed further this afternoon and decided that it would be better to postpone the launch of the air transport bubble for two weeks. “said Mr. Ong.

“We will review the new launch date within two weeks and update it.

“I can fully understand the disappointment and frustration of travelers who have planned their trips. But we believe it is better to differ from a public health perspective.”

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Airlines will contact travelers individually, the transport minister added.

READ: Hong Kong reports 43 new COVID-19 cases, tightens measures

Hong Kong reported 43 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, 36 of which were transmitted locally. Thirteen of Saturday’s cases were from unknown sources of transmission.

The city had reported 26 new COVID-19 infections as of Friday.

“In light of the recent surge in local cases, we have decided, together with the Singapore government, to postpone the launch of the air transport bubble for two weeks,” Yau told reporters in Hong Kong.

A spokesperson for the Hong Kong Food and Health Bureau added: “The number of confirmed local cases with unknown sources of infection has recently been on the rise, indicating the existence of silent chains of transmission in the community. “

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As part of the airline bubble, travelers are expected to take dedicated flights operated by Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.

The Singapore Civil Aviation Authority (CAAS) said on Saturday that travelers could continue their travel on flights not designated for air bubbles.

“However, these travelers will be subject to border controls and health requirements in force in both cities,” CAAS said in a press release.

For example, Singapore residents returning from Hong Kong will be subject to seven days notice of stay at home upon entering Singapore.

Mr Ong said: “It’s a sober reminder that the COVID-19 virus is still with us, and even as we struggle to get our normal lives back, the journey will be full of ups and downs. But we will continue and look forward to when we can safely launch the air transport bubble. “

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Earlier on Saturday morning, Ong said there was a “high chance” that the airline bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong would be suspended if the COVID-19 situation in Hong Kong continued on its current course.

READ: Air bubbles, more greenways are part of Singapore’s plans to ‘revive’ Changi Air Hub amid COVID-19 – Ong Ye Kung

Under the travel bubble, the arrangement would be put on hold if the seven-day moving average of unrelated cases exceeds five per day in either city.

Hong Kong has seen an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, a situation the city’s Food and Health Secretary Sophia Chan described as “serious” on Friday.

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