Singapore-HK air travel bubble can’t take off: Iswaran

The Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble was originally slated to be resume on 26 May. (PHOTOS: Yahoo News Singapore / Getty Images)

Singapore and Hong Kong skylines (PHOTOS: Yahoo News Singapore / Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Singapore and Hong Kong authorities are not able to launch the air travel bubble between the two cities given the current COVID-19 situation, said Transport Minister S Iswaran at a virtual multi-ministry taskforce conference on Thursday (19 August).

This comes on the back of the announcement that Singapore will lift border restrictions from Saturday for those from Hong Kong and Macao, as well as open travel lanes for fully-vaccinated travellers from Germany and Brunei from 8 September.

“Secretary (for Commerce and Economic Development in Hong Kong) Edward Yau and I have discussed and concluded that we will not be able to launch or sustain the air travel bubble in its present form,” said Iswaran, who is also Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations.

He noted that while Singapore and Hong Kong are focused on keeping the populations safe and minimising the risk of imported cases, both cities’ COVID-19 strategies differ, with Singapore now taking steps towards becoming a COVID-resilient nation.

But Isawaran stressed that Singapore authorities remain committed to facilitating travel between the two cities.

“We are both financial and aviation hubs with close economic and personal ties, and it’s important to re-establish, in general, travel between Hong Kong and Singapore so that our people and businesses can reconnect,” he added.

Earlier this month, Hong Kong announced revisions to its overall border policies, including a shorter quarantine period for vaccinated travellers from Singapore.

The travel bubble between the two cities had been delayed from its launch several times since it was mooted late last year. Originally slated for a 22 November launch last year, it was suspended for two weeks due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong. It was later delayed indefinitely on 1 December.

A proposed start date of 26 May was deferred again earlier in the same month, due to a rise in unlinked cases in the community in Singapore.

Singapore authorities in July said that the air travel bubble will not begin amid the Phase Two (Heightened Alert) measures.

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