Hong Kong and Singapore have reached a preliminary “travel bubble” agreement that would eliminate the need for people travelling between the two jurisdictions to undergo quarantine or stay-at-home measures, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau announced on Thursday.
If finalized, travelers would instead only need to produce a negative COVID-19 test result in a facility mutually recognized by both cities.
The purposes of travel would not be limited to work or business, nor would travelers be restricted in their itineraries after arrival.
Specific flights would transfer people between the two cities and would only carry residents of Hong Kong and Singapore.
Hong Kong currently prohibits the entry of all foreign visitors, while residents returning home are required to enter 14-day quarantine.
“The remaining work is to finalize all the details with a view to allowing people to travel through bubble arrangement as soon as possible,” Yau said.
“We hope to use the coming few weeks to put in place all these requirements which involve certain legislative amendments, arrangements with airports, airlines and also the sort of mutual recognition of testing protocol.”
The launch date and further details of the “travel bubble” arrangement have not yet been revealed, although Hong Kong media suggested Thursday it would likely launch in December.
However, Hong Kong remains on high alert given the severity of its third wave in July. Another 12 cases were reported Thursday, taking the total to 5,214 cases of which over 60% have been locally transmitted.
“Travel (between Hong Kong and Singapore) must be permitted if it is safe and low risk,” said Yau. “The common objective is to contain the virus through all these sorts of control measures.”
Singapore had raised the prospect of “air travel bubbles” with so-called “safe” countries such as Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand earlier this month, potentially providing a boost to tourism operators including Singapore’s IRs – Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and Resorts World Sentosa (RWS).
MBS recorded an Adjusted EBITDA loss of US$113 million in the three months to 30 June 2020 with net revenues falling 96.7% year-on-year, while RWS reported a loss of SG$163.3 million (US$119.1 million) on the back of a 99% decline in gaming revenue.