'Highly unlikely' Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble will resume on schedule: Ong Ye Kung

SINGAPORE — It is highly unlikely that Singapore will meet the criteria for the Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble (ATB) that is set to resume on 26 May, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung on Friday (14 May).

"Given the rising number of (COVID-19) cases in Singapore, it is very likely that Singapore will not be able to meet the resumption criteria," said Ong during a multi-ministry taskforce (MTF) press conference.

Ong said he had spoken to Hong Kong's Secretary of Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau earlier on Friday, during which both sides reaffirmed their commitment to the ATB. Ong suggested, however, that the ball is now in Singapore's court.

"Hong Kong is a very safe region now. Like us, they do tens of thousands of tests a day, and they are picking up often zero if not one, two cases a day. So it's a very safe region. The issue now is the situation in Singapore where cases are going up," he said.

"So what we will do now is closely monitor the numbers over the next few days, critically review the (ATB) start date and, early next week, we will make an announcement," said Ong.

Ong's announcement comes as Singapore faces a sharp rise in COVID-19 community infections and the emergence of new clusters of cases linked to variants of the coronavirus. One of these clusters originated at Changi Airport, leading to the closure of public areas and new safe management measures being imposed.

The authorities on Friday unveiled additional measures and restrictions under Phase 2 (Heightened Alert), which will take effect from Sunday to 13 June.

The current ATB agreement specifies that the bubble will be suspended for at least 14 days if the seven-day moving average of unlinked COVID-19 cases per day is greater than five in either Singapore or Hong Kong. This figure excludes the infections detected at Singapore's migrant worker dormitories.

The ATB was originally set to launch in November last year, but it was suspended following a spike in cases seen in Hong Kong.

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