The governments of Singapore and Hong Kong are considering re-starting the process of making travel bubble arrangements between the two. Singapore and Hong Kong are important economic hubs with presence of important international business stakeholders. Thus, with the advent of COVID-19, the governments of both the countries considered establishment of a travel bubble to ensure smooth commute to check the adverse affects on the economies.
During the pandemic, the travel and tourism industry was majorly impacted but travel bubbles helped in corroborating the situation for specific groups and sectors.Travel bubbles are basically arrangements between countries to ensure re-starting of commercial flights in a case when the regular routine has been impacted or suspended due to the COVID 19 pandemic. This bubble is a two-way agreement that aims at facilitating commute between the two nations by setting some procedures to be followed.
Following the example of various other states, Hong Kong and Singapore too were in talks to develop a travel bubble and inaugurate flights for the same cause. There were some steps put in place that included compulsory pre-travel and post travel COVID 19 tests as a part of the travel bubble protocol. That would have resulted in a quarantine free stay. This was beneficial especially for traders and businessmen travelling for work on short term basis.
However, the Government of Hong Kong confirmed in an official statement in December 2020, that the plan for travel bubble had been deferred sue to the increase in the number of COVID 19 infected cases in Hong Kong. The governments of both the countries were monitoring the situation and plan to re-consider the option soon. There has been an alarming rise in the number of cases in Hong Kong.
This decision came after the suspension of Singapore Airlines when a transit passenger was found infected by the virus on 31 March 2021. An additional measure taken was to avoid allowing any transit passengers in the airlines which were a part of the travel bubble.
Singapore is one of the few countries to have confirmed officially that no new cases were reported . The twitter account of the Ministry of Health, Singapore stated on 5th April 2021 that no locally transmitted cases of COVID 19 were found but 17 imported cases were still there. Hong Kong too has reported that the number of cases are under control. The talks have resumed once again and there is hope for the Travel Bubble to start functioning soon. There will be emphasis on transparent criteria for travel and avoiding any technical breaches.
An optimistic step forward can be expected soon if the situation continues to stabilise. This will be a source of relief for the airlines as well as business travellers. The final decision is still dependent on the COVID 19 cases.