Joint decision to defer S'pore-HK air travel bubble was based on clear parameters: Chan Chun Sing

The travel bubble had been slated to start on Nov 22, 2020.
The travel bubble had been slated to start on Nov 22, 2020.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - The joint decision by Singapore and Hong Kong to defer the air travel bubble was based on "clear parameters" that had been set out in the agreement between the two cities, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on Monday (Nov 23).

The travel bubble had been slated to start on Sunday, but its delay was announced a day earlier in light of a recent spike of coronavirus cases in Hong Kong.

Addressing questions on the travel bubble during a press conference where Singapore's economic figures for the third quarter were released, Mr Chan said that the terms had been laid out during earlier discussions between Singapore and Hong Kong.

Both sides made "a very fast agreement that when the conditions are changed, when the conditions have evolved, we will take the decisions accordingly", he added.

Under the agreement, the travel bubble would be suspended with a two-day notice if the seven-day moving average for unlinked cases in either city exceeds five.

Mr Chan said both cities' authorities present the other with daily updates on their Covid-19 numbers.

A joint decision is made when the threshold is breached, he said, adding: "As and when there are new information available (from) both sides, we will share with each other, and once we look at those numbers, we apply the framework and we make a joint decision."

Last Saturday morning, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said that the travel bubble would proceed as planned the next day, but with the added requirement for travellers from Hong Kong to take a Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction test upon arrival.

Later in the day, however, the U-turn on the decision and the deferment of the travel bubble for two weeks was announced.

Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said in a Facebook post last Saturday afternoon that updates on when the travel bubble can begin will be made at a later date.