A proposed travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore looks destined to be cancelled for a second time following an outbreak of COVID-19 in Singapore.
Hong Kong Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Edward Yau Tang-wah, confirmed Friday that he had been in talks with his Singaporean counterpart over the planned 26 May 2021 launch of the travel bubble given a recent rise in case numbers. As of Saturday, the number of community cases in Singapore had reached 112 compared to 55 in April and just nine in March.
“The [outgoing] Singaporean minister told me that there might be a high chance the bubble arrangement may not be able to resume under the agreed mechanism on May 26,” he said, as reported by South China Morning Post.
“Given the rising cases in Singapore it is very likely that Singapore will not be able to meet the resumption criteria.”
The travel bubble had originally been planned to begin last November but an outbreak of COVID-19 in Hong Kong in October saw the agreement suspended.
With Hong Kong’s COVID-19 situation having become stable again in recent months, authorities had been quick to rekindle discussions. It had been expected that two airlines – Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines – would provide one flight a day in each direction with a maximum of 200 passengers per flight.
However, authorities also warned last month that if COVID-19 cases increased to an average of more than five community cases per day over a seven-day period in either location, the travel bubble arrangement would be suspended for at least two weeks.
The 24 cases Singapore reported last Thursday, which was repeated with another 24 on Friday, was the highest single day tally of cases since July 2020.