Singapore and Hong Kong delay launch of travel bubble yet again

May 17, 2021

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.

Singapore and Hong Kong have delayed the opening of their travel bubble yet again. On Monday, the travel bubble was put on hold for a second time amidst a rise in untraceable cases in Singapore, according to the South China Morning Post.

The two cities planned to launch their quarantine-free travel bubble from 26 May, allowing travellers to journey between the two with few restrictions. However, governments from both Hong Kong and Singapore said the launch would be delayed, and there will be a further announcement regarding the future of the Air Travel Bubble (ATB) on or before 13 June.

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The travel bubble between the two cities was originally set to launch in November 2020, however, it was delayed because of a spike in cases in Hong Kong. It was then pushed to 26 May, though that has indefinitely been delayed again.

When the ATB was set to launch in May, just one flight per day was set to operate between Singapore (SIN) and Hong Kong (HKG), carrying a maximum of 200 passengers per day. Travellers were to be required to be fully vaccinated and take a test within three days of departure and again on arrival.

As of Monday, Singapore has seen a rise in cases with no link. The government has implemented new restrictions on social gatherings until 13 June. The seven-day moving average of unlinked cases in Singapore rose from 4.57 to six, according to SCMP.

Authorities said last month that if there was an uptick in the seven-day moving average of community cases to more than five, the ATB would be suspended for at least two weeks.

The tourism and travel sectors — especially that of the aviation category — have welcomed the idea of a travel bubble. Singapore Airlines lost £1.19 billion in the nine months to December 2020 as its number of passengers shrank 97.6% Similarly, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific reported an annual loss of $2.8 billion in 2020.

Last month, Australia and New Zealand launched their travel bubble, allowing Aussies and Kiwi travellers to venture between the two countries without quarantine on either end. However, New Zealand later removed New South Wales from the travel bubble arrangement following a spike in cases.

It’s possible that we could see new travel bubbles open around the world as countries look to reopen to tourism — but only for those coming from countries with low case rates and high vaccination rates.

Featured photo by seng chye teo/Getty Images.

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