Singapore continuing to seek new travel bubble partners despite HK setback: Ong Ye Kung

Countries that the Republic has unilaterally opened its borders to make natural partners for potential air travel bubbles, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung.
Countries that the Republic has unilaterally opened its borders to make natural partners for potential air travel bubbles, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Singapore is continuing to seek new regions to establish travel bubbles with, even as the launch of the first such arrangement with Hong Kong remains on hold, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Sunday (Dec 6).

Countries that the Republic has unilaterally opened its borders to make natural partners for potential air travel bubbles, Mr Ong told reporters on the sidelines of a community event.

Short-term visitors from Australia, Brunei, China, New Zealand and Vietnam are currently allowed to enter Singapore and travel freely as these countries are deemed to have comprehensive public health surveillance systems and successfully controlled the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Travellers from these countries need not serve a stay-home notice, but must apply for an Air Travel Pass, test negative on arrival and download and use the TraceTogether app while here.

"We hope they will reciprocate. They can look at Singapore's numbers - we are really controlling the virus quite well for now... Hopefully, I think, sometime next year, different partners will be willing to open up travel bubbles," Mr Ong said.

"We can't close forever. Everybody knows that."

The start date for the Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble, initially set for Nov 22, will be reviewed between Christmas and New Year, he said.

"Looking at it between my counterpart and I, we decided there's no point in trying to give any hope that it can be commenced in the middle of the month," Mr Ong said.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said last week that both cities had decided to defer the start date to next year amid a recent spike in Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong. It had earlier been agreed that the arrangement would be suspended if the seven-day moving average for unlinked cases exceeded five in either city.

Hong Kong reported 101 new cases on Saturday (Dec 5) as the city faces a new wave of infections and tighter measures to curb its spread.

"I think it is the correct thing to do because you can see right now the cases are at this level - they are not spiking very high, which we are happy to see, but at the same time it's maintaining at a certain level," Mr Ong said.

"As for other partners, we are constantly looking."