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The Hong Kong-Singapore bubble bursts

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SINGAPORE, 23 August 2021: The Singapore-Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble has been officially shelved, possibly for good, according to a statement by Singapore’s  Minister for Transport S Iswaran, and Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Edward Yau.

In a statement released 19 August, the Ministry of Transport confirmed that both sides had “discussed and agreed not to pursue further discussions on the ATB at this point”.

Earlier on 20 July, Singapore and Hong Kong said they would review the status of the Singapore-Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble (ATB) by late August.

“Singapore, a substantial proportion of our population, is fully vaccinated in Singapore,” said the Minister. “Hong Kong, too, is progressively vaccinating its population. Both sides are focused on keeping our populations safe and preventing the risk of imported cases.” 

He noted in the statement that “strategies differ, with Singapore now taking steps towards becoming a Covid-resilient nation. Against this backdrop, both parties agreed that it would not be possible to launch or sustain the ATB in its present form.”

However, both Singapore and Hong Kong reaffirmed the importance of maintaining connectivity between our cities.

“As major aviation hubs, travel links between Singapore and Hong Kong are critical for our businesses and our people. To this end, Hong Kong will continue to consider adjusting its border measures to facilitate travellers from Singapore to enter Hong Kong. Singapore has also announced earlier today (19 August) that it will be adding Hong Kong to Category I under its country/ region classification and will be unilaterally lifting its borders to travellers from Hong Kong from 2359 20 August 202.”

Hong Kong tightened its border control measures last Friday, with vaccinated travellers from Singapore and other places deemed a medium-risk having to serve a 14-day quarantine instead of seven days.

Meanwhile, Singapore announced on Thursday that visitors from Hong Kong and Macau would be able to enter the Republic with just one on-arrival Covid-19 swab test.

The Hong Kong-Singapore travel scheme was slated to launch last November but was postponed to May after Hong Kong had a surge in cases.

It was derailed again when the number of coronavirus cases began to rise in Singapore in May. The situation stabilised before another spike in cases in June.

Hong Kong legislators had last month urged the government to scrap the plan as Singapore shifts from a zero-infection strategy, which Hong Kong places great importance on, the Straits Times reported.

(Source: SG MoT)

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