Travel bubble details announced

Travel bubble details announced for journeys between Hong Kong and Singapore

UPDATE 2 The planned travel bubble has now been postponed until 2021.

UPDATE The travel bubble, which was due to go into effect from November 22, has been suspended due to a sudden spike in covid-19 cases in Hong Kong. The suspension is said last for two weeks but it could last longer if the spike turns into a fourth wave.

A travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore is set to launch on November 22. Residents will be able to travel between the two cities without need for quarantine. There are no restrictions on the purpose of travel and people will be able to move about each city as they wish.

There are however, some conditions that must be met. All passengers are required to produce a negative Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result taken within 72 hours prior to each departure and everybody arriving in Hong Kong will be required to take another before leaving the airport. Results take about 4 hours.

Travellers to Singapore are expected to download the contact tracing app TraceTogether before arrival and keep it activated until departure. Singaporeans must apply for approval to fly seven days prior to the flight date. All travellers must, of course, also comply with public health requirements in each city.

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Both cities have managed to control their coronavirus outbreaks but if the situation does deteriorate in either then the arrangements would be suspended. The conditions for a suspension are that if unlinked cases rise to more than five over a seven-day moving average. In that case flights would be halted for two weeks.

Passengers using the scheme are only allowed to use flights designated for the bubble. At first there will be one flight a day carrying a maximum of 200 passengers. This will increase to two a day from December 7. The flights will be operated alternately by Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines.

The three hour flight doesn’t come cheaply however. Round trips from Hong Kong are hovering at around HK$4,900 (US$630) and flights from Singapore in the same ballpark. On top of that will be another HK$1,890 (US$243) for the cost of three PCR tests. In spite of that flights for the first week appear to be fully booked already.

Both cities are negotiating travel bubbles with other destinations in the region but as winter is bearing down on the north threatening a new spike, expect progress to be slow.

Picture: Tour boat on the Singapore River with Marina Bay Sands in the background