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Hong Kong-Singapore Travel Bubble Pushed Out to 2021

World’s first international air corridor was to have launched Nov. 22, but rising Hong Kong COVID-19 cases forced delay

December 4, 2020

The launch of the Hong Kong-Singapore air travel corridor has been pushed out until sometime in 2021. A statement from Hong Kong’s Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said the air travel bubble would be reviewed in “late December.”

The COVID-19-negative flights were set to begin Nov. 22, but were delayed at the last minute when cases in Hong Kong surged. Initially the start was pushed back by two weeks as the two cities authorities evaluated the increasing number of cases.

However, since then, the rate of spread in Hong Kong has only risen, and as of November 30 stood at 16.1 cases of unknown origin per day. The city’s infection tally now totals at 6,314, with 109 related deaths, according to a report in the South China Morning Post. 

Singapore has had more coronavirus cases overall, but number of new infections in the city-state has slowed dramatically since the outbreak peaked in April.

“The decision on a further deferral of the launch date of the ATB (air travel bubble) was taken in view of the severity of the epidemic situation in Hong Kong, with the number of local cases of unknown sources increasing rapidly,” according to the government statement.

The HKI-SIN air travel corridor was to have been a model for how international travel can be done safely without mandatory quarantines. Instead they would need to take a pre-flight COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours prior to departure and obtain a negative test result. They also need to take a post-arrival COVID-19 PCR test in Hong Kong.

Passengers would not be required to take another test when arriving in Singapore, but most would be required to have a Singapore-issued Air Travel Pass. 

Flag carriers Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines were set to operate one daily designated travel bubble flight each, initially with a quota of 200 travelers each way.