Singapore and Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble (ATB) which was scheduled to start from May 26 has been put on hold due to increasing courses of COVID-19. This is the second time opening of the much awaited travel bubble has been delayed.
The decision was declared early on Monday May 17, after a meeting between Hong Kong commerce minister Edward Yau Tang-wah and Singapore transport minister S. Iswaran. Further announcements are expected by June 13.
“In light of the recent increase in unlinked community cases, Singapore is unable to meet the criteria to start the Singapore-Hong Kong ATB. Both sides therefore agreed to defer the launch of the ATB to protect the health of travellers and the public in these two places,” said the statement released by the Singapore government.
The travel bubble facility was expected to be available to travellers irrespective of nationality who have remained in either Singapore or Hong Kong for 14 consecutive days before their date of departure. As per authorities in Hong Kong, only vaccinated people were allowed travel. Hong Kong residents were required to be fully vaccinated i.e. received two doses of either the Sinovac or BioNTech vaccines 14 days before their date of departure to Singapore. However, this requirement wasn’t applicable to those travelling from Singapore to Hong Kong. as per the travel bubble, one flight each day from each city was allowed to fly with up to 200 passengers per flight.
Singapore has seen an increase in cases of COVID-19 in the last few weeks and Singapore is under Phase 2 – Heightened Alert. As per data published by WHO, on May 14, the daily COVID-19 cases changed by +112.5% in Singapore. As of May 16, 38 new cases have been confirmed in SIngapore.
Previously, the travel bubble was suspended in November 2020 after the fourth wave of COVID-19 swept Hong Kong. In April 2021, both cities had announced a new travel bubble which was expected to start from May 26.
Non-ATB flights will continue to operate between Singapore and HOng Kong. Travellers flying without ATB arrangements will have to follow guidelines and health requirements of both places. As per notification of the Singapore government, Singapore residents returning from Hong Kong will be subject to a 7-day Stay-Home Notice upon entry into Singapore.
The ATB was expected to breathe air into the affected tourism industry and restart tourism in both cities. The tourism in both cities has taken a hit due the coronavirus pandemic. Hong Kong’s famous Disneyland reported HK$2.66 billion loss, worst ever on record.
Singapore Tourism Board (STB) announced tighter measures for the tourism industry as per the measures announced by the Ministry of Health. These measures will be effective from May 16 to June 13, 2021. According to the new guidelines, operating capacity for attractions and cruises will be reduced to 25 per cent. Indoor or outdoor shows will allow up to 100 attendees with pre-event testing mandatory. Only 50 attendees maximum are allowed without the tests. These same guidelines are also applicable for meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions, and live performances. Various other guidelines regarding dine in services, outdoor sports and activities, traveling and tours were also announced in light in increasing coronavirus cases.