SINGAPORE — Singapore and Hong Kong have reached an in-principle agreement to establish a travel bubble that will allow travellers from either territory to visit the other with minimal restrictions.
Under the arrangement, no curbs will be placed on the categories of travellers. Visitors will also not be obliged to have a controlled itinerary.
Visitors to Singapore from Hong Kong will also not be subjected to a quarantine or Stay-Home Notice (SHN) upon arrival, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung during a virtual media doorstop on Thursday (15 October).
Describing the “fairly simple” parameters of the arrangement, Ong said that, firstly, it had to do with both territories having successfully brought the COVID-19 pandemic under control and kept the coronavirus transmission numbers low.
Secondly, it involves much fewer restrictions and, thirdly, controlling the risk of the virus spreading through the use of pre-departure tests. Ong added that either side can also add more tests or impose more measures if they choose to.
“I think this is a small step, but a significant one, because Hong Kong and Singapore are regional aviation hubs, even global aviation hubs.
“For the two of us to be able to control the epidemic and come together to establish this air travel bubble, I think, hopefully, gives us a template for establishing more such relationships and partnerships,” said Ong. He added that the arrangement would start with a manageable quota of visitors, which would be increased once operations are stabilised.
While he did not give a date for when the agreement would be finalised, Ong said it was a matter of “crossing the ‘T’s and dotting the ‘I’s”, although he noted that his Hong Kong counterparts will have a few more procedures to go through due to their legislative processes.
“I’m not particularly chasing for the school holidays. I hope that our parents and our children will have other recreation options, including exploring Singapore... My concentration is really a long-term one,” he said.
Asked what would happen if the arrangement led to a spike in coronavirus cases, Ong said it would likely lead to a suspension of the deal. He also reiterated the need to open up the aviation sectors of both countries to help their economies as “hundreds and thousands of jobs are at stake”.
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