S'pore-HK travel bubble won't start if Covid-19 threshold is breached

Singapore will continue to apply the mechanism of the seven-day moving average with regard to the travel bubble with Hong Kong, said Education Minister Lawrence Wong on April 30, 2021. PHOTOS: REUTERS, KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - The Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble may not start if the threshold of a seven-day moving average of five or fewer unlinked community cases in either city is breached.

Responding to a question about how the recent spike in community cases here may affect the travel bubble, which will allow quarantine-free travel between the two cities from May 26, Education Minister Lawrence Wong said on Friday (April 30) that Singapore will continue to apply the mechanism of the seven-day moving average, as agreed by both parties.

"If it starts, but along the way the threshold is breached, then it may well be suspended," said Mr Wong, who is co-chair of the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19.

Given the fluid Covid-19 situation around the world, Singaporeans have to be mentally prepared that such new initiatives could be disrupted or suspended, he added.

"This is not a situation where new initiatives are rolled out and then they will continue permanently without any potential for disruption," said Mr Wong.

The May 26 commencement date for the air travel bubble was announced earlier this week by Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung and his Hong Kong counterpart, after being deferred last year following a spike in Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong.

The travel bubble will have a cautious start with one flight a day in each direction, capped at 200 passengers on each flight for the first two weeks.

This will then be increased to two flights per day from June 10.

Passengers from both sides must test negative for Covid-19 before boarding the direct flights, and take a test on arrival as well.

Those using Hong Kong passports leaving the territory are also required to be fully vaccinated before travelling.

This will not apply to Singapore citizens and others using non-Hong Kong travel documents for departure.

As at Friday, the number of unlinked cases in the community had increased from five cases in the week before to six cases in the past week.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.