SINGAPORE – Singapore is expected to announce its first air travel bubble with Hong Kong, sources told The Straits Times.
This means that people will be able to travel between the two locations without the need to be quarantined, subject to conditions including testing negative for Covid-19.
ST understands there will be testing for Covid-19 on both Singapore and Hong Kong grounds either pre-departure or post-arrival, as well as “bubble” flights or flights that do not carry passengers who are not cleared.
It is understood that the key features of the agreement have largely been laid out but details as to when it will start or how the double testing for the virus will be done remain to be worked out.
The total confirmed Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong has gone past 5,200, including 105 deaths.
The city was hit by the third wave of the pandemic after clusters started popping up in June and quickly worsened in the weeks after, prompting the authorities to roll out the strictest social distancing measures such as mandatory wearing of face masks and capping public gatherings at two, in July.
Currently, the third wave has tapered off and the daily increases have fallen from the highs of over 100 about a month ago.
But health authorities and experts in Hong Kong have warned in recent weeks of the fourth wave of the pandemic in winter season, with some saying it could come earlier if people let their guard down.
Public gatherings are now capped at four and gyms, bars and pubs have been allowed to reopen. Dining-in services at eateries are to end at midnight.
Hong Kong is the 10th place that Singapore has made special travel arrangements with.
There are different types of agreements.
The first is a unilateral opening – a standing invitation from Singapore to countries that have comprehensive public health surveillance systems and have successfully controlled the spread of Covid-19.
Countries in this group are New Zealand, Brunei, Australia – excluding Victoria state – and Vietnam.
Visitors have to apply for the Air Travel Pass that allows all forms of short-term travel, including leisure travel.
The second tier, bilateral green lane arrangements, are for essential business and official travel.
China was the first country to establish a green lane with Singapore. There are also reciprocal green lanes with Malaysia (from Aug 17), Brunei (from Sept 1), South Korea (from Sept 4), Japan (from Sept 18) and Indonesia (applications to begin on Oct 26).
For Malaysia, there is a second scheme in place – the periodic commuting arrangement, for longer-term travel for work and business-related travel.
For other countries hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, travellers have to serve a 14-day quarantine at dedicated government facilities and take a swab test before the end of their quarantine period.